Solution to Charting Bleed Through

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Although I don’t officially report back to school until next Wednesday, I went into my classroom on Monday.  I’ve  spent a few hours each day in my classroom getting back into the teaching mode.  I know, I know, I’m a little bit nuts.

As I readied some of the areas of my room today, I began hanging up a large pad of chart paper in the front of my room.   Often times as I create charts, both for and with my kiddos, my markers bleed through to the paper behind it.  Ugh!  I just hat it when that happens.  Don’t you?!  It seems that for every chart I make, I have to throw away 1-2 pieces of chart paper because they are decorated freckled with colorful dots from the prior chart.  This drives me nuts.  I also hate the waste this creates.  To solve this problem I started putting large pieces of construction paper underneath my paper.  But this still involved waste.  I also tried several other methods, but they never really solved my problem.

That’s when I remembered a cool idea that I read some months back (I wish I could remember where I read this, as I would simply sent you to their site).

Instead of creating your charts from the top page, start with the last page.  Flip the entire chart pad of paper to the last page.  When you chart on this last page, those lovely little freckles will only decorate that huge piece of cardboard on the back of your pad.

Now you can tear your chart off of your pad and had it up in your room.

I know what you’re going to ask next because I asked myself this question this morning.  Kristine, what if I want to keep me chart on my pad of paper so I can go back and reference it–like I do when I create from the top down?  I’ll still end up with the bleed-through problem.  Here’s my solution.  Take two large binder clips and clip them to the top of your pad of chart paper and clip your newly made chart here.

Until next time,

Keep Smiling,

Happy Sunday Friends.

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted anything.  Last month my favorite oldest son  came down and visited for a little more than a week (not to be confused with my favorite youngest son).  Shortly thereafter I went on a vacation of a lifetime to celebrate my 30th anniversary–a cruise to Alaska, via Vancouver.  This was our first vacation without our 2 amazing sons.  I was off-line for close to 10 days and in an internet-free zone.  There wasn’t  even wi-fi for most of our trip and  I didn’t really open my computer for more than a week.

Today I want to talk about the importance of taking breaks.  Often times I dive into things that I love and enjoy it so much that I can’t, or won’t, pull myself away from my activities.  When summer arrives, I am usually able change up my routine and spend my days working in my yard, visiting with family and friends, and literally running around from place to place doing miscellaneous errands.  For me, this is a break from my usual school-year routine.  I try to set aside school for a few months and let my mind get re-energized.

This summer was significant different.  Knowing that I was going on this fabulous vacation I spent my summer doing just the opposite.  You see, last year I injured my foot.  If you recall, I even took 5 weeks off in January.  Then… I reinjured my foot in May.  Since I knew I would be doing a lot of walking throughout Canada and Alaska, I spent the first part of my summer sitting.  Just sitting.  Not going anywhere it my rediculously heavy walking boot.  It was crazy.  I blogged, I created a lot of materials for next year’s class, and I worked on my website.  I was having so much fun being able to work non-stop without any interruptions.

It was nothing but school.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely loved it!  I learned how to do so many new things: rounding corners on documents, updating the look of my blog, and so on.  I was able to get digital projects completed, as well as update and fix past materials.  Since I was sitting for hours on end, I whiled away my time “working” on my computer–it was so much fun!

Then my forced break came–my vacation.  Great news: my foot was healed and gave me very little problems.  I had so much fun kayaking, ziplining, watching the salmon run, and even bear watching.  Oh my gosh!  Glaciers.  New friends.  Visiting new places.  It was amazing!

I want to share a secret with you–I was worried about leaving my computer, and my creating, behind.  That would be a hundred hours of work time lost.  But just the opposite happened.  Just as my vacation approached, I’d had about a dozen stressors come crashing down upon me.  Stressors that I didn’t realize were wearing me down.  Without knowing it, I needed to step away from it all–even the things I love to do. And  I came back completely renewed.  It has even taken me almost a week to come back to my blog–gasp!

We all KNOW that we need breaks from our day to day routines, but we rarely put that into practice.  I think some of it is the culture of our country, as I learned from two new friends who we met on the ship (they’re from Canada).  We are work-aholics.  And as teachers, I think we spend so much time taking care of others that we think we can do it all.  We’ve heard that we need to take breaks, but we think we’re the exception and that we’ll be just fine.  But we aren’t, and we won’t.

So as you begin the new school year, you will read a lot about taking time for yourself.  Going to the gym.  Working in your yard.  Doing something unrelated to school.  I’m asking you to join me in trying to do that at least once a week.  We should do it daily, but I’m all about setting yourself up for success.  So even if I don’t get to the gym every day (and I won’t as I still have to “babysit” my foot somewhat), I’ll try and hop on my stationary bike for 10 minutes a day, or at least once a week.  In fact, I see it beckoning to me right now.

What 1 thin will you do for yourself that will take you out o your normal routine and give your brain a break?  And cleaning out the garage doesn’t count!

 

Monday Made It Freebies

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I have been so busy this week finishing up numerous projects, whcih means it must be time for Tara’s weekly Monday Made It.

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Isn’t this label too cute!  It only took years to update (more than I care to admit).  I wrote an entire post about dealing with “injured” books this weekend and gave these away.  You can grab these cute signs for your classroom here.

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Since everyone in my family had to work on the 4th, I spent the day reading all of the posts on Tara’s Monday Make It.  I actually read every single post!  I was so inspired by everyone’s amazing projects.  My to-do list went from about 8 things to 48 things.  Thank you!  Anyway, I was inspired by something I found in Dia’s TPT store over at Glad 2 Be In Grade 3.  (I so hope I got your name right!)  Any how, she had this cute summer reading “Bucket List”.  My mind went wild.  I would love to have this for my kinders, but as a check off/to do list for during the school year.  I thought pictures would be better and help them gain independence.  I made this poster for them to color in as they complete each task.  I decided that I also wanted a color version to hang in my classroom.  I then decided to include a check off sheet for teachers with older students.  I can’t wait to pass it out in August to all of my new scholars!  You can get yours for free for your class, too!

MMI 3 green

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I began using Brag Tags this year and my students LOVED them!   I went a little bit crazy and made about 3 dozen, or so.  I finally got a group of them TPT ready .  I had planned to put them up on my store as a celebration for reaching 100 followers, but I changed my mind.  I plan on doing a post on how to make these in the next week or so as nothing I found really helped me, beyond the long way of copying and pasting each component into each cell.  I even checked out the great YouTube site that Jessica over at The Teaching Oasis shared last week, but that didn’t seem to work on my updated version of Power Point.   Many of the short cuts I figured out on my own.  Anywayyyyy, I finished up 4 of my large set, as well as put up quite a few freebies.  I hope you like them.  Perhaps I’ll reach my target of 100 with this release.  If you’re curious as to how to make these, check back with me regularly (or follow me so you get notified–sorry for the cheap plug and the round about way of asking).

There were a few more, but I want you to be able to make it to all of the amazing other teachers and see their amazing projects.  They always impress me so much.

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Book Doctor

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Is there a doctor is the house?  A book doctor that is!

Since I have books in my library are in their third decade of life, they are well loved.  There are also many books that have become favorites among my young readers, as well as those books that travel back and forth from students homes for nightly reading.  Also, no matter how careful my scholars are with our books, and they are oh so responsible, accidents happen.

When I first began teaching I used to keep my precious books hidden away in boxes.  These books only came out when I was teaching on that specific topic, and then only I was allowed to touch them.  After all, I’d spent my well earned money on them.  (Believe it or not, my first year teaching I only earned $11,000.  And that was before taxes!)

Within a few year years; however, I realized that if I wanted my firsties to love reading they had to have access to books.  And lots of books.  So out came all of my books–at last count I was well pas 3,000 books.  Since I have already done a long post about how I organize my library, I won’t rehash it.  You can check it out here.

I went through my long introduction about library use and book care (post coming) and everything was great!  My kiddos were accessing my new library regularly and reading a large variety of books.  I was so thrilled!

…and then it happened…  rrrr–iiiiii—p!  Oh no!  I quickly looked in the direction of the  sound only to see a student sitting frozen in shock.  I told my little friend not to worry and that  we could easily fix the book with some tape.  A band aid for books, so to speak.  Since my books were being accessed far more often, and used in books boxes daily, more and more books were in need of band aids.  Even the center pages of our books were coming loose.  Agg!  I was spending more time putting band aids on books than teaching.

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At first I just put the book in a pile on my desk (or behind my desk).  Soon this was driving me nuts.  I had to come up with better solution.  One that I could set up and easily maintain and one that my scholars could handle.  The book doctor was born.  I found a tub and quickly cut out a red “plus” sign, designating it as the “Red Cross”.  I explained that the red cross was the international symbol for medical care.  One of my friends even took on the Book Doctor in her room, but she calls it her Book Hospital–a place where her books stay until they are fixed and all better.

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Students place any book needing attention in the box and I get to it when I get to it.  Or one of my awesome parent volunteers will attend to the injuries.  A few weeks ago I decided to give my 20 year old “Book Doctor” sign a long overdue face lift.   I took some cute clipart and made this sign.  Isn’t it cute!

I made both labels and you can grab them here.  There are two different sized labels for your both sides of your tub.  I can’t wait to surprise my friend… unless she’s reading this now, then… Surprise!!  Eventually I will get these up onto TPT, but until then, you can get them here.

How do you deal with your “injured” books?

Five for Friday

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It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to link up with Doodle Bugs.  This week’s link-up is short and sweet.

For all you you reader’s out there, I’m sorry.  I love me my books, but I had to do a shout out for these two movies.

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Jungle book Cover

Jungle book is one of the most beautiful movies to come out in a while.  It’s amazing what can be done with animation!  The story is pretty much the same story as Disney’s famous animated feature and has the same classic songs (I’m actually humming “Bear Necessities right now!)  I have told everyone I know that they have to see this movie.  You can wait for the video, but the magnificence just won’t be the same.

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The second movie that I watched the other night was Zootopia.  I had wanted to see this in the theatre, but it never really happened.  My younger son also joined Mr. Weiner and me, so it was a fun family time.  This is a very cute movie and definitely good for the whole family, and includes a lot of great comments on society.  There was this one scene where we all laughed so hard my sides hurt.  It’s a definite must.

I promise I wasn’t paid for my reviews, and tried to keep them brief.  In fact, I kinda want to go rent Zootopia again.

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This one may not seem like a big deal but I was fairly excited.  I have had quite a few people ask me if I would be bundling several of my products.  I hadn’t been able to do that until now.  I finally figured out how to create a zip file.  This means that I can bundle products on my TPT store.

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I tested it by bundling my color songs–I’ll talk about these on another post.  I will be bundling one of my biggest sellers: Engage New York-Eurkea Math daily journals later today.  Woo Hoo!

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Earlier this week I stopped by to visit my friend.  She “raises” Swallowtail butterflies.  She has created a wonderful environment for these butterflies to come into and lay eggs.  Then she “cares” for the eggs and tiny caterpillars until they pupate and emerge as adults.  Every fall she supplies me with a supply of Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. I asked her if she thought she might have enough for me this fall and she said, “Oh yeah!”  She’s having her biggest crop ever.  I’m so excited.  I will share about our class’ adventures with these butterflies in the fall.

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We have had the biggest mystery in our house over the past week.  If you look at the picture you will notice that there is only one shoe.  My husband’s shoe has gone missing.  Yep.  You heard it.  Missing.  Gone.  Vanished.  Disappeared.  We have been tearing up our house looking for its mate.  My poor husband is so upset.  The only good thing that has come out of this are some really bad jokes/puns… Thus, we’ve hired a gumshoe who slipped right into the case and hit the pavement (insert groan!).

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Keeping Your Puzzle Center Organized

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One of my standard centers is the Puzzle center.  I have had a puzzle center in my classroom since I began teaching: I even used it in my 3rd grade classroom back in the 80’s, and continue to use it in my kinder classroom.

One of the biggest problems was cleaning up the puzzle center.  When my students went to the puzzle center one partner would take out a puzzle and begin working on it.  Their partner would take out another puzzle and work on that one.  When it came time to clean up, my students would quickly gather up the puzzle pieces and neatly put them away.  The following partnership would repeat this same process.

First, I want to applaud that my kiddos who do their best to clean up their center.  Thank you sweeties!  But my problem continued.  Puzzle pieces were constantly being placed into the wrong box/bag.  The natural solution to this problem would be to teach my kiddos to only take out one puzzle at a time.  One would think this would work… for the most part, at least.

But it didn’t.  Puzzle pieces would be missed during clean-up and the next person to come along would responsibly place the piece into the first box they saw.  After all, they were trying to be responsible citizens of our classroom.  Two years ago, I’d reached my limit.  I was ready to scream (in the dark of night, into my pillow, when no one was around.  Aaaagh!!).  Just kidding.

I will add a picture here, later–they are on my, now dead, ipad

I knew I had to come up with a solution.  What to do. What to do.  A picture!  An icon!  I’d seen publishers use these with pre-readers to help direct students to specific places on worksheets and thought that this might just work with my puzzles.  I’d even used them on my worksheets. I decided to try these with my puzzle pieces.

I will add a picture here, later–they are on my, now dead, ipad

I stayed late after school one afternoon and drew a picture onto the backs of each puzzle piece.  I then drew the same picture on the back of the puzzle box.  I do want to tell you that this was fairly easy but it did take a while.  This is because I put each puzzle together to be sure that every piece of the puzzle was in the box.  I used the following pictures/icons: star, heart, * (asterisk), circle, square, triangle, long rectangle and moon.  Since I have a lot of puzzles I knew that I wouldn’t have enough pictures.  My solution was to use multiple colors (red, blue, greed, black) and to leave some of the shapes “empty” and some them “colored in”.

This hasn’t been a cure-all for my puzzle center, but when my scholars find a stray puzzle piece they are able to put it back to the correct box.  Second happy dance!

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Ask 3, Then me

At five years old, most kinders have relied on mommy and daddy to solve a majority of their problems.  When they show up for kindergarten they tend to rely on me for everything.

I want my students to learn to be both self-sufficient and pro-active.  I like to use  rhymes and little sayings to teach routines and expectations to my young scholars.  One of my favorites is, “Ask three, then me.”  I alluded to this in my post about Writing and Technology, when I would toss student problems back to the students.

I introduce the idea of “Ask three, then me,” to the students by explaining that there are always going to be times when we don’t understand something and will need help.  I share about a time when I had to ask a colleague for help, as well as a time when a colleague has come to me for help.  Since the back of my room is open to the class next door there are often examples of this.  Also, I work closely with our school’s resource teachers and the special education teacher who come into my room regularly.  This provides quite a few examples.

We then have a discussion about making good choices as to where to go for help.  For example, if I need help finding a good book to go with our Community Helpers unit, I wouldn’t ask Mr. Weiner for advice.  Although he is very smart, he wouldn’t be able to give me any help; however, the teacher next door would be a have lots of ideas.

I then reference a time when one of our support people has come to me.  I explain that our Resource Teacher knows that I often have a supply of paper bags.  It makes more sense for her to come to me, and not our principal.  She always waits patiently until I can stop and help her, and then she apologizes to the class for the interruption.  She is quick, and to the point, she doesn’t continue to stop our teaching and learning.

Lastly, we discuss where to go to ask for help.  Proximity is important.  Although the resource teacher could share some writing paper with us if we ran out, it would make more sense to ask the teacher next door.

All of these scenarios are important to share, and model.  It is important that the students learn to ask each other for help, not seek out the “smartest” person in the class.  My students all sit at tables with  5-6 kiddos each.  This means that the students will always have several people that can help them.   I will discuss how I set up seating arrangements later.

I confess that it is easier to just answer a student’s question when they come to me.  I find that I need to stop myself and say my little mantra from above, “Ask three, then me.”  After all, it’s so much quicker to just point to the right button on the Android than it is to stop what I’m doing or interrupt the student I am working with to remind a student to go talk to a friend.

This year I had a student who reminded me how important it is to teach self-reliance.  This little friend often sat back passively waiting for someone to solve her problems for her, or to give her the answers.  It took all year, but I kid you not, during the last week of school I saw her taking chances and asking her fellow classmates for help.  Woo hoo!  I could have jumped up on a desk and done a happy dance.  This story touches me most because I so don’t want our little ones to grow up passively hoping someone (anyone) will come by and give them the answers or solve their problems for them.

It’s difficult to give up being the gatekeeper of the information.  It takes effort to teach  students to be self-reliant and to search out help from others.  But the reward comes  in watching your scholars learn how to solve their own problems will serve them their entire life.

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Writing and Technology