Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Sale

We did it! Today is finally here! Last day before Winter Break and I couldn't be happier! To celebrate I am throwing a sale with Casey from Second Grade Math Maniacs! From now until the end of Sunday, everything in my store is 20% off!!!

Most of my things are for Fall/Christmas, but go ahead and stock up for next year. Fall 2013 is coming faster than you think ;) Click here to check out my store!

Check out Casey's blog to see all the other teachers linking up:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Talking About Sandy Hook

I know that this past Friday's events has touched every American and millions around the world. It hits home for every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister. As elementary school teachers, we have a unique position for empathy. We are entrusted with our students safety everyday. These children are the center of their parents' universe and 7 hours a day we become their protectors. With all of the lesson planning, IEPs, meetings, and behavior plans, it is easy to forget that we fulfill that fundamental responsibility. It is engrained in us. We make sure that our students have their shoelaces tied, that they avoid leaning back in their chairs, and that they take a jacket to recess when it's cold. Very rarely are we asked to protect our students from anything more dangerous than a bump or scrape. Yet earthquakes, fires, and school violence happen. Sandy Hook was a reminder of that. However rare something like that is, we as teachers bare the responsibility of our students' lives. The teachers at Sandy Hook were perfect examples of this. I can't help putting myself in their places, my students in that situation. How would I react? Would I panic? Would I remember the lockdown procedures? While I believe that my instincts and training would kick in, it is only natural, I feel, to doubt how I would react in the face of danger I have never experienced.

With all the fear and uncertainty I feel, I can only imagine what my students are feeling. Walking in today I knew I would see a range of emotions. Some students were visibly upset. Others were more distractible than usual. A few didn't know anything about it. One student was joking about it all. It was his way to cope. I thought a long time about how I wanted to go about talking with my students.

I set a few ground rules for the discussion:
1. No putdowns
2. Avoid silliness
3. Take turns
4. Avoid details.

The last rule was the most important. I did not want to go into a CNN-style play by play that would make students feel worse instead of better. That meant I cut some students off (usually the same ones who play first-person shooter games and were the least effected by the news).

I started by asking students what they knew and what they had heard.  I was worried about this because I knew that some parents would want to shield their kids from knowing anything about this. But I also realized that my students would be hearing about it one way or another. It would be better if I could be there to help guide what they're hearing rather than the unchecked rumor-mill of the playground. If a student said something that was incorrect, I let them know.

Next, I told the students about how we keep the students safe. I talked to them about lockdown, the police presence, and the ban of all weapons at school. After I explained all that we do to keep them safe, I opened up the floor for questions. Most wanted to know how we could keep them safe. Some wanted to talk about gun safety since many of their parents keep guns in the home. Some students were devastated. Others seemed fine. But I was glad that we talked about it all.

After all of this, I sent a letter home to all of my parents, letting them know what had been discussed today. I wanted them to be informed of what their children had talked about and what I had told them so they could follow up at home (and to assure them that I was not giving unnecessary details). I told parents they could contact me or my principal with any questions or concerns.

We will see how our students react as the weeks and months pass. Only time will tell how much it will affect them. For now I will be concentrating on having a fantastic, festive week before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Literacy Centers

It's the final countdown! Christmas break is approaching fast as is the holiday itself! I've been so busy making my holiday activities that I've barely had time to go shopping for my family. Luckily I can get on that since I've finished pretty much everything at this point except for one freebie. (Keep your eyes posted for that one in the next few days). Anyway, here they are!

My most recent center focuses on the suffixes -s, -ed, and -ing. Students take the base word printed on on Santa, then ad the suffixes -s, -ed, and -ing. They will be asked to drop the extra e, double consonants, and change y to i.

Click here to see it on TPT.

I also made a review of long/short vowels for my students. Considering they are a little hyper, I wanted to give them some review. Students sort ornament words into their vowel sound. This covers all the long and short vowels (no diphthongs) so it is a good way to wrap up the concept.

Click here to check it out on TPT.

I also designed a center for students to work on Au/Aw words. Students sort words that make the short o sound by their "rule": either au, aw, al, o, or ough. I designed it based on an activity from the Fountas and Pinnel book that I use for Phonics instruction.

Click here to look at it.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I have a few other centers as well.

Pumpkin Pie Diphthong Sort

Students sort words that have the same vowel/diphthong sound as boat, cow, or toy.

Christmas Reflexive Pronoun Activity

Candy Cane Prefix/Suffix sort with -re and -ful

Phew! I gotta rest a bit before I get started on the centers for January!

Friday, December 7, 2012

St. Lucia Wreath Activity

I mentioned in my post about Christmas Around the World that we worked on Sweden on Wednesday. As part of our Sweden day, the students made St. Lucia head wreaths as part of the art block. They turned out really cute and they were super easy!

First I took sentence strips and cut them in half. I printed candle templates on white cardstock and leaf/holly templates on green construction paper. Click here for the candle templates and here for the leaf/holly template.

The Materials

Students colored the sentence strips and glued on the leaves and candles.

Once they were finished, I measured the strips and stapled them so they would fir their heads. (I took them off their heads to do the stapling obviously). They turned out very cute.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Reflexive Pronoun Activity (And a New Look!)

I am REALLY excited to have my blog designed by the fabulous Christi from Designs by Christi! She did an amazing job and put up with me being totally inarticulate about what I wanted. (I could picture it, but I did not have the right words to describe. Clearly I am not a designer). Plus she was amazingly fast! I can't believe how quickly she was able to design and install it for me. Thanks for working with me Christi! I am so pleased with the new look :)

Design by Christi

Anyway, today I uploaded my newest activity onto TeachersPayTeachers. I created a reflexive pronoun activity for my December Christmas Theme, similar to the subject/object pronoun activity I created for my Halloween Literacy Centers. Students can either cut/paste or write-in the correct reflexive pronoun to complete the Christmas sentence. Aligned to the all important Common Core as well. Gotta have that.

Click here to check it out on TPT!

December Currently

So glad it's December and time for another Currently Linky Party! Here goes...

Clearly just looking at my Currently I am already in the Christmas mindset. The music, the need for a computer and the desire for a fancy shamncy camera... I am looking forward to celebrating with my family! As much as I want, I have some even better gifts prepared for them. I can't wait to give it to them :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Around the World: Second Grade Style

I love Christmas. I don't understand those few who don't. It is such a delightful time!

When I was teaching K I did a Christmas around the world unit. It was based around crafts and read-alouds and my students loved it. This year I decided to adapt it for second grade and so far my students are LOVING it. I created a power point about the varying countries we're "going" to: Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, England, and Mexico. I have pictures of each country, a map showing where it is located, and slides discussing the different traditions.

 Check it out here on TPT!

Today they got their passports. On the first page I had them write their full name, address, and picture. I showed them my own passport as an example.

Each day as we got to a new country, the students "stamp" their passports with the flag of each country. They color the stamp themselves with an example on the board. Sweden was today, so that was a pretty easy one. England will be a bit of a challenge. The stamps are so small! (But adorable).  I got them from Sarah Cooley's scrapbook.

I love this unit so much I decided to link it up with 1..2..3..teach with me for her Christmas linky party. Check it out for more ideas for this fabulous holiday :)

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