Thursday, September 4, 2014

PBIS and Character Development

I am on the PBIS committee at my school.  Ladies and Gentlemen this committee is tailor made for me.  I get to be creative and crafty in school.

This year our theme is "Good Habits Never Go Out of Season"  We are using Covey's 7 Habits for Happy Kids.  Don't know the 7 habits?  They are:

Super Cute Graphics from the Leader in Me website linked above
There is a read-aloud book with all the stories in one, and individual student books for each habit as well.  Students love these!
The 7 Habits of Happy Kids (Hardcover) The 7 Habits of Happy Kids Collection
Get them here

Our school also has character education words of the month...
Rainbow borders by Ashley Hughes, Fonts by Kimberly Geswein

So we combined the 7 habits and the words of the month!  Each month October - May students will be interviewed about how they use one of the habits to demonstrate the word of the month.  For example: I am responsible because I put first things first and do my homework as soon as I get home.  I am tolerant because I seek first to understand and then to be understood.  I listen to my friends and use kind words.

Their examples will go up on this bulletin board:

My wonderful Cricut Machine will cut out apples, and leaves and snowflakes to decorate!  The 7 habits posters you see there are a freebie and can be found HERE! However TPT has many free 7 habits resources available!

And that's just one part of our PBIS initiative!  I will be back later in the year with more as we get them up and running!

Does your school use PBIS?  How is PBIS implemented in your school?  I'd love to hear new ideas!
Does your school use the 7 habits?  I'd love to hear about that too!

 photo Signature_zps73d808b4.png

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Plan Book!

Each year I struggle with writing in my plan book - It's just not exciting for me, and quite simply not a priority!  Plus I've never really found a planner that works for me.

One year I made one and went all out.  I had standards, and assessment boxes, and materials list - all right there on the page.  I started out really well!

But in the end it was too much, and most of the planner would be blank.

Then I used a Teacher Created Resources planner for a little while, but there was no monthly calendar, no space to write in groups and no dates... so not quite right

Then for a few years I used one of the monthly/weekly planners that you can get at Target or Wal-mart.  But I found that it wasn't enough! Since each day was just one big box I didn't have separate spaces for each group.

This is when I started seeing and lusting after plan books for sale on TPT.  Oh My Goodness some of these things are spectacular and I want them all! But the problem - There is so much in them that I won't use!

So for this coming year I decided to make my own!

I used a digital paper (it's actually a pack preview but I love the colors) from MelStampz, and JandaCurlyGirlSerif by Kimberly Geswein

After the cover I have a page with my information and place to write in my schedule (in pencil since it changes often!)

Then I have a space for a quick look at student info - all my students information is stored on School Tool, so I don't make a big deal of having an information page when it's easier to go online.  But there is some stuff not on there that I need to have at my fingertips - F&P level and ESL Proficiency Level. Plus this is a quick reference for a sub.

Next I have a Student Birthdays Page - I always forget my kiddos birthdays until they tell me... I'm going to be better about that this year!

After that I start in on my monthly sections.  Each month has a laminated cover page and tab.

I made the tabs by printing the months on Avery round labels then I stuck two together and gently placed them in the laminating pouch behind the monthly cover.  Getting these spaced out correctly was a trick!

Then I have a one-page monthly calendar. I don't write much on my calendar so I don't need a 2 page spread.

Then I have a place to take attendance - This will be something new for me this year.  There are days when I don't see a student even though they are in school - I have a meeting, they have a special activity... etc.  This page is blank on the back so I can make note of special circumstances for absences.
I took this picture at the same time as the rest, in the same room, with my same phone - I don't know why it's so blue!

Then I have a place to take meeting notes.  I am really bad at taking meeting notes.  So this may end up being a meeting list.

Then I have my month at a glance - I am so excited to start filling this in.  I do it on post-it flags so that I can move things if I need too.

Then comes where most of the writing happens... the weekly spread.  I need the most space for this.  I prefer to see my day all in one column.  This also has a space for me to write in my after school meetings, a place for me to write my to-dos, and a general notes space.

At the end of my plan book is a yearly calendar with the school breaks, and my back cover... with my favorite teaching quote ever.

If you like my cover, monthly dividers and back cover you can grab them over on my Facebook page.  They are a fan freebie!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meet the Teacher Blogger!

Thanks to Stephanie at Falling into First for hosting this linky!  I am new to blogging and I have really loved every moment of this new experience, and getting to know other bloggers!

A little bit about me (a condensed version of my about me!)

I am a wife

I am a daughter

I am a big sister

And mom to two furbabies!

These are a few of my favorite things...

Craft Stores, Craft Supplies, Office Supplies (Especially pens - I love a good pen), Really good cheeseburgers... ICE CREAM... peanut butter

Oh and I suppose my hubs, family and dogs too... ;)

If I weren't a teacher...

I'd want to be a crafter ... scrapbooks are my specialty!
#MondayMantra: I'd rather be crafting. #craft #craftquote

Three little words that describe me...

Finish the sentence "______, said no teacher ever" 

I'm done with all my work...
Summer is too long...
I love standardized tests...

It's my birthday and I can invite anyone dead or alive to my party - who would I invite?...

My family and close friends, and my grandmother (who's passed)

If someone wrote a book about my life the title would be...

In Progress.. and Not Done

If I got to pick one super power it would be...

Gotta go with teleportation - since my family lives 3 hours away and my hubs family is moving across country - I would like to be able to get places in the blink of an eye.

What's my favorite quote or saying?...

"Teachers affect eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops" - Henry Adams
and many others... but that is the first one that came to mind (hence my blog name)

If I had to sing one song on American Idol it would be...

I wouldn't - I'd go to America's Got Talent and hope my scrapbooking skills would get me through.

Morning person? Night owl?

Neither - I'm good from about 7-10, before 7... after 10... I prefer to be sleeping

My favorite resource in my TPT shop...

I only have 3... so they're all my favorites!  However I just made my first sale yesterday which was super-de-duper exciting!

Go Check out my TPT shop!

Something you might not know about me...

When I was a toddler my father was a Vet Student at Ross University on St. Kitts Island.  We lived there during Hurricane Hugo!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

S.I.O.P. Workshop!

Last week I attended a 3 day S.I.O.P. academy with some of my colleagues and many other teachers from our area.  What is S.I.O.P.? It stands for Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol.  I suppose that didn't really clear anything up.  Basically the authors observed (lots and lots of) ESL teachers, and (lots and lots of) classroom teachers with ESL students and figured out what worked and what didn't work to help these students be successful.  This is what they came up with.

(they gave us this book at the workshop - SCORE!)

The beautiful thing about SIOP is that you don't need to stop doing anything you are already doing!  It works with reader's and writer's workshop, responsive classroom, Whole Brain Teaching, Bloom's taxonomy etc.  It is simply steps to follow to make sure that your content is reaching your Emerging Bilinguals.  

The first thing we did was discuss first language vs second language acquisition and social vs academic language.  As an ESL teacher I've heard it before! I've even done a workshop for other teachers in my district on those topics.  Here is a PREZI I did for our Pre-K staff - Feel free to use it.

But I was struck by something our presenter said.  We were discussing the differences between first and second language acquisition.  We discussed that the first language is learned in order to communicate with loved ones at home, while the second language is learned to survive and function in society.  I had never thought of that before and it really made me stop and think.  That fact has stayed with me since the workshop.

Then we got to the meat of SIOP.  The 8 components of SIOP are:
  1. Lesson Preparation
  2. Building Background
  3. Comprehensible Input
  4. Strategies
  5. Interaction
  6. Practice and Application
  7. Lesson Delivery
  8. Review and Assessment
I am only going to talk about a few - And very briefly.  This was a 3 day workshop, and I could go on forever.


The biggest thing with this is content AND language objectives.  Many teachers now display I CAN statements or objectives in the classroom.  SIOP says keep doing this, just make sure that you are deliberate in creating them, make sure they are displayed throughout the lesson, make sure they are measurable.  Also there are two parts to the objective. 

For example - A unit on Family:
CONTENT: Students will be able to identify the members of a family.
LANGUAGE: Students will be able to write 3-5 sentences about the members of their family using family member vocabulary words.  

I display these objectives using my I Can posters - available for free on TPT.

3. - Comprehensible Input

This is my favorite part of this workshop.  Our presenter is fluent in Spanish, and did an entire lesson in (what seemed like to us) rapid-fire Spanish.  She passed out supplies, and kept raising her voice, and yelling, and saying 'NO, no, No"  It was a humbling experience.  I wish I had a video - but I was having too much fun participating.  Then she stopped and made the content she was presenting comprehensible.  She slowed down her speech... lowered her voice... made eye contact... used visuals... had us repeat vocabulary... modeled the steps.  When we were done we all had beautiful tissue paper flowers.

This activity really gave us (even those of us who know some Spanish) a glimpse into what it is like to be an Emerging Bilingual student.

8. - Review and Assessment

This is something I am determined to be better at this year.  My colleague and I decided we are going to have the students frequently self-assess.  We will be using a vocabulary Pre-and Post- Assessment at the beginning and ending of each week. These are also available for free on TPT:

If you'd like more information please check out this PDF:
Or see if you can get your hands on this book.

If you teach Emerging Bilinguals and have a chance to attend a SIOP workshop I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Beliefs on Education

I've decided to try my first Linky Party!  I loved this topic from The Primary Gal.  It made me think "hmmmm... what did I write in my portfolio?"  So I went to pull it out.  Those of you who know me won't be surprised to learn that my teacher portfolio is..... A SCRAPBOOK!

So I read over my philosophies and most of them I still agree with so without further ado....

I became an ESL teacher because I believe...

1.) Every student is capable of learning.  However not every child learns in the same way so as a teacher I must provide my students with a variety of authentic, meaningful learning experiences.  This learning needs to be engaging. I enjoy the challenge of creating these experiences for my English Learners (ELs).

2.) We need to create comfortable environments where students feel loved and cared for.  At a workshop today it was pointed out that students learn their first language in order to communicate with their loved ones.  For my students learning a second language they are learning that language in order to survive.  Can you imagine how much more difficult that is?! I can't.  So we need to make the environment for learning that second language a loving one.

3.) Students need structure!  A structure and routine will help to lessen ELs anxiety.  Once they learn the routines of the classroom they can focus on the content being taught.  Routines also make life easier for the teachers!  Everyone wins!

Why did you become a teacher?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Curriculum Part 2! - Some of my Favorite Internet Sources

As you can see from last week's picture - my table is covered with curriculum materials to pull from.  However I use a lot of internet sources as well. I have so many tabs open my computer usually crashes!

Teachers pay Teachers is one of my absolute favorite things!  I don't remember how I found resources before this.  I love to search for free things! I can search by my topic and find some awesome activities. Once I find a read-aloud book I'll search here for activities to go with the book. There are even emergent readers! I love this site!

Amazon is great for finding read-aloud books.  I love their 'look inside' feature.  Once I find a good read-aloud book I will search my library (see below), my school's library and public library.  Generally I can find the books in one of those two places.  Since I am getting curriculum ready now I can keep a list of books to reserve from the library and when I need to have them.  Hopefully this keeps me organized!

Library Thing is a great place to catalog the books for your classroom library.  You can tag your books with different topics, or reading levels or whatever you want.  I will search my books for a title, or topic.  I can also search what other people have tagged as a certain topic.  I have over 1,000 books listed!

Reading A-Z is great for leveled readers.  I will have the books printed in color through BOCES.  For K students I generally read the book then use the comprehension question cards as our discussion.  I will mount them on cardstock and laminate them.  For first and second grade I will print the worksheets, quiz and comprehension questions.  

If I can't find a leveled reader on Reading A-Z I will check Hubbard's Cupboard.  Her printable booklets are generally very good for K students.  The books generally have a black and white student copy, and a larger teacher copy.  I have the teacher copy printed on cardstock, laminated and bound.  Then I will make comprehension questions and laminate them.  

What are some of your favorite places to find resources?

Friday, July 25, 2014


Alright - so my school district doesn't have a curriculum for ESL teachers, so the other ESL teacher and I have been spending some time this summer compiling our resources and outlining a basic curriculum.  We are finding it harder than we thought! When we are done we are hoping to have a good start on a k-2 curriculum.  Here is a look at the resources we are using:

1.) The NYSESLAT Binder - this has all the sample tests.  We use this to make sure we are creating parallel activities so that the format of the NYSESLAT is no surprise come May.  Also we have activities we can use as a formal assessment.

2.) Thoughtful Classroom resources - Last year my school district started using the Thoughtful Classroom as a unit/lesson design format.  It is a great way to approach unit design.  I will post more on this with a sample unit (or two or three or more?!) later.

3 & 4.) Backpack & Cornerstone Pockets - These are some curriculum samplers that I received from our BOCES years ago.  We pull supplemental activities and resources from these books.

5.) Oxford Picture Dictionary for the Content Areas for Kids - We received these just this past year.  We are finding them to be a bit too high for our kindergarten students.  However there are some really great things in here!  The pictures are fantastic.  The reproducible collections are great for vocabulary cards, and it has follow-the-directions activities.  There are matching activities, crosswords and word searches.  We also bought the teacher's edition, and workbooks along with the dictionaries themselves.

6.) Make Your Own Pictionary - This is a super old curriculum designed for K students.  I have been using this for my K classes for the past few years.  However I found that they are definitely outdated ('paste' instead of 'glue') and misses some important words and puts in others that make no sense.  It's not all bad though the unit pictures are great for coloring pages and discussions.  It also introduced the idea of a pictionary of all the words we learn in the year.  The kids love taking home a book of all their words at the end of the year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Here We Go!

Alright - I'm going to try this blogging thing.  Let's see how it goes!