Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday: Resolutions

2017...Wow! Can you believe it? I know social media was flooded with people excited to bid farewell to the hot mess that was 2016. While it may have been a wild one for our country, personally, 2016 treated me pretty dang good. I spent the first full year enjoying life with both my husband and myself out of school. We got to enjoy a summer without him studying for the Bar. Best of all I made a change that has truly blessed my life in more ways that I can imagine. If you follow me on social media you've seen me refer to my unicorn school. Y'all this switch is probably one of the best choices I've made in my entire life. And it's that switch that is really guiding my resolutions for the year. (Although if we're being honest I hate the idea of resolutions, because it seems that they always fail.)

But nonetheless, it's the season of resolutions, so let's get on with it. 

I guess if I had to choose one word to describe my personal resolution this year it would be consistency. 

Isn't that a powerful thought? When I saw that it really resonated with me in so many ways. I want to be more consistent in pretty much all facets of my life. I want to say I'm going to do things and do them on a regular basis, whether that be in my faith life, in my friendships, cleaning the house, going to the gym, being more gracious, blogging, creating for TPT, being ahead on lesson plans, etc. Consistency is my word for 2017.

When it comes to a resolution for me, my pipsqueaks, and our classroom, I really want to push hard on kindness. It hit me hard one of the last days of school that I needed to be very intentional in modeling kindness and understanding. I've got one pipsqueak out of my two classes that really just takes a tad bit more loving and patience. You know that kid, the one that makes you want to change your name because he blurts it out all day everyday. Everyone has one!

I realized that even his classmates were really feeling that same sentiment as well. But I also realized that during the chaos of that last week before winter break I wasn't being as patient and understanding as I could have been, and I think it was trickling down to my students as well. So heading back my goal is to lay the kindness on thick! (Update: Today was our first day an the pipsqueak mentioned above got his mind right over break...thank the lawd!!)

So let me ask you this, what are your resolutions for yourself and your classroom? Are your students going to be writing about their own resolutions this week? If so, I've got a simple resolutions writing sheet freebie for you. You can grab it HERE! It's really simple, but sometimes that's all you need. Plus it's future-proof for the next few years! Fun fact, this little ditty is one of the very first things I uploaded to TPT back in 2015.

Don't forget to check back next month for our next Thoughts on Thursday! If you're a blogger, Jessica over at Tech and Teachability and I would love for you to link up. 

As always If you loved this post and want to save it for the future or want to share it with other teachers you can tag the image below to your Pinterest boards! Hugs, kisses, and tell your mom and 'dem I said hey!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on Thursday: Favorite Christmas Traditions

My calendar helper and I changed our calendar to December today. My kids were super pumped. But I'm over here freaking out. How did this happen? How is it December already?! I think I'm partly surprised because up until today it still felt like the middle of August. That's the problem with living in South Louisiana. I digress...

So since it's December it's time for another Thoughts on Thursday. My bloggy bestie Jessica from Tech and Teachability and I are here talking about our favorite Christmas traditions.

I come from a fairly large Cajun family. My Christmas memories are filled with big meals, loud talkers, and wrapping paper fights. Seriously even thought all the grandkids are over the age of 16 we still hoard wrapping paper during gift opening and strategize to bombard my aunts and uncles with wrapping paper balls.

In my classroom my favorite Christmas tradition is having my kids complete Christmas Around the World research projects. In years past I taught all of the subjects in my second grade classroom. Christmas Around the World became the sole focus of our ELA and Social Studies block for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. My kids created Google Slide presentations to share what they learned about the various holidays around the world.

I'd pair my students into small groups and each group would research a different country's holiday. We would spend a week researching using iPads, QR codes, or the computer lab depending on what technology we had available that year.

The entire unit culminated with Christmas Around the World day. Each group would get up and present their projects.

After each presentation we would eat foods and create crafts that corresponded with the particular country. I think Christmas Around the World day is my favorite day of the year.

This year since I only teach Math, Science, and Social Studies, so we don't have as much time to devote to the project. It's going to look a little different, but you better believe Christmas Around the World is still happening in Mrs. Dunckelman's class. Instead of one whole day of presentations, my students are going to present one group at a time for a week. Instead of Google Slide presentations, they'll be completing little booklets. But food and crafts are still happening!

My school is very diverse with a very large Hispanic population. So even though we're in the New Orleans area, many of my students haven't heard about the special Christmas traditions of South Louisiana. So I decided this year to incorporate a little Cajun Christmas tradition into our Christmas Around the World research.

In South Louisiana the Christmas story is a little different. Santa's reindeer can't make it through the swamp, so his sleigh turns into a pirogue pulled by alligators. Families build bonfires along the Mississippi River to light the way for Papa Noel and his alligators. The bonfires are lit on Christmas Eve, and they really a beautiful sight.

If you'd like to share Christmas in Cajun Country with your students you can grab my QR code research mat and reading passage here.

One of the best books you can read to get a good understanding of the Cajun twist on Christmas is Cajun Night Before Christmas.

And here's a little fun with the story. LSU's kicker Colby Delahoussaye is from a Cajun area of the state and has one of the best Cajun accents I've ever heard. Here's a great video of him reading the story!

I hope you enjoyed learning a little about our Louisiana Christmas. Thanks for stopping in to hear my Thoughts on Thursday! Make sure to hop over to the other blogs that are linked up. Join us next month when we talk about resolutions!

If you loved this post and want to save it for the future or want to share it with other teachers you can tag the image below to your Pinterest boards! Hugs, kisses, and tell your mom and 'dem I said hey!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election Day Activities

Well it's November and the presidential election is mere days away. I don't know about you, but this election has me feeling like a deflated balloon the day after a birthday party. I am normally super pumped to teach my students about elections, voting, the three branches of government, and our civic duty, but this election and these candidates have me walking on egg shells. 
Despite my lackluster feelings about our two major party candidates, I do believe it's important to embrace the crazy and stress the importance of voting to our students. We're raising, teaching, and molding the next generation of voters. So here's a few ways we're tackling the election in my classroom.

Y'all BrainPOP Jr. is my go to for introducing any new concept or skill. To begin our discussion on the presidential election, we watched the President video. 
Annie and Moby taught us the history about why we have a president, what the job of the president is, and who can become the president. I'm thinking the idea of Moby for President might not be too terrible!

Our school has a subscription to Scholastic News and this month's edition had a great section all about voting. 
The article sparked a great discussion about the serious responsibility of voting and why we should always be respectful of other's opinions. I work at a school with a lot of diversity and a large ESL population. Our ESL para professional was able to share her unique perspective on the election since in her home country they don't share the same freedoms as we do in America. I was nervous about discussing the candidates with my students, but they actually seemed very open to discuss in a respectful manner after reading the article. We also took some time to discuss third parties and how it's okay to not choose either one of the major party candidates.

In previous years, I've held mock elections in my classroom. At my new school the whole school participates. One of our amazing para professionals put together this fantastic voting booth with the help of some of our third graders.
(I feel like judgy George Washington is looking down on the candidates with disdain.)

The third graders also served as poll workers. 
They gave all of the kids a ticket to vote with inside the voting booth. 
Then another poll worker handed out I voted stickers to each of the kids who placed a vote.
They really did have a blast, and we got through the whole process with no conflict about the candidates. They really took to heart the discussions we had previously about how lucky we are to live in America where we can all have our own opinions.

After we returned to class from voting, my students each posted a selfie of them and their I voted sticker to their ClassDojo student story. 
They included a caption to tell their parents about their experience voting or what they learned about elections.

I voted stickers only last one day, but brag tags are a way for my students to remember the experience through out the year. Each student that voted also received an I voted brag tag to add to their necklaces. You can grab my election day brag tag freebies here.

Overall, even though this election might be a let down for those of us whose votes actually pick the president, I think it's still a fun and exciting time for our students. So like I said earlier, let's all just embrace the crazy for our students and cross our fingers that our country will be okay come November 9th! If you want to save this post for future elections or want to share the post with other teachers you can save the image below to your Pinterest boards! Hugs, kisses, and tell your mom and 'dem I said hey!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thoughts on Thursday: Fall in the Classroom

Y'all can you believe it's already October!? I feel like this school year just started, but next week is already the end of the first marking period. I digress. First Thursdays mean Thoughts on Thursday with me and my friend Jessica at Tech & Teachability. Each month we chat about a different topic. Sometimes we talk about classroom happenings and sometimes we just chat. Today we're talking about one of my favorite topics ever.

Living in South Louisiana I get to experience all of about three weeks of Fall. I'm sure it's nothing like what most of you experience. The leaves don't really change color. Basically they go from green to dead. I don't get to go apple picking. But you better believe I pretend that Fall is here in full force. I embrace all of the basic things possible -- scarves, vest, boots, tights, and all things pumpkin spice. Seriously though, give me all the pumpkin!

Besides it being my favorite season, Fall is a really exciting time in the classroom. We've all gotten comfortable with each other. All the kiddos know the routines and procedures. It's like we hit our stride. The classroom is functioning like a well-oiled machine and learning is really happening. Plus there's the excitement of Halloween in the air!

This year I'm departmentalized. Teaching one subject has been amazing. I feel like I've become the teacher I always knew I could be. I feel like my classroom is really differentiated and meeting my students' individual needs. But I will say all Math all the time does make me miss all the fun that can be had when teaching ELA. I'm particularly missing doing fun crafts and curriculum integrated art activities with my kids. But last Friday I came up with a fun way to practice a Math skill while making a super cute Halloween craft for our outside display. 

Haunted Fact Families were the perfect after test activity for the Friday before October! You can grab this freebie here!

I hope you're enjoying everything Fall has to offer inside and outside of the classroom. Make sure to hop over to the other blogs that linked up for Thoughts on Thursday and see what kind of Fall activities are happing in other classrooms. Join us next month we we gab about elections in the classroom.

Hugs, kisses, and tell your mom and 'dem I said hey!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Take a Peek Into My Classroom

Hey y'all, today I'm FINALLY here with a reveal of my second grade math classroom. I hope you enjoy this peek into the space where I spend my days.

I switched schools this year, so that meant I was starting from scratch. Let me tell you, after four years of being in the same classroom with basically the same set up, starting fresh in a brand new classroom really took some brain power. Here's a look at what my room looked like before the countless hours of work we put in to transform the space.

My new school -- which is heaven on Earth by the way -- is currently under construction. This time next year, I'll be sitting pretty in a brand new classroom (again) in a brand spanking new building! Because we're literally under construction, our school theme for the year is "Building a Stronger Future."

Our halls are filled with construction signs, caution tape, and tons of cute clipart kids at work! I don't normally jump on board with a theme in my classroom, because I'll get over it really quick, but I did take the construction theme to the max outside of my room.

This "Nailed It" display is for student work. I have two classes this year so each class gets one side of the display.

I got the idea for these quick under construction signs from Ashlyn at The Creative Classroom. They were a simple way to make my display look complete for supply drop off day even without student work.

All of the classrooms have two doors. I like to designate an in and out door just to streamline the flow of traffic in the classroom. The wreaths were inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest and were crazy easy to put together! I started with styrofoam wreath forms and just looped strips of caution tape around. It took an hour or so to fill up the whole wreath, so I definitely suggest doing this project with Netflix and a glass of wine. But it truly was a project you could do without focusing a lot of attention to it.

This is the view when you walk in through the in door.

In this view you can see my teacher table and the little corner I use to store all those teacher things. I try to take up as little space in my classroom as I can for me. I ditched that huge teacher desk in my second year of teaching. It really is just a place for junk to accumulate. I want my classroom to have as much room for my students to move and learn in, so that thing had to go!

I use these drawers to keep myself organized. I have one drawer for each day of the week. I store any materials, copies, and books that I'll need for that day's lesson in this drawer. There's also a drawer for next week for those times when I'm ahead at planning and have things ready in advance. There's a drawer for papers that need to be filed and copied. The extra sets drawer is where I store extra class sets of resources that I just might not get to. That way if I end up with a few spare minutes I have activities I can pull and those class sets don't go to waste. It's also a perfect space to reference in your emergency sub plans. The last drawer is pink because it's my love notes drawer. This is the space that I keep all those treasures that my students give me like love notes, pictures, coloring sheets, and anything else those sweethearts gift me with.

Behind my teacher table is our brag tag display. With two classes our brag tags take up a big space, but it's absolutely worth it. My students love brag tags and I love that there's so many options of things I can positively reward them for!

These adorable name tags came from my Louisiana teacher blogger friend Kristen at the Hub City Classroom.

In that first view you can also see our "I'm Done Station" as well as the place where we store all things testing.

This set of drawers is the I'm Done Station. Early finishers come here to find something to do when they finish work early. I'll do a full blog post on this in the future because it truly is a life saver and super easy to put together on the cheap!

I color code my classes to keep myself and my students organized. My morning class is blue and the afternoon class is green. They each have their own drawer to turn in graded assignments. The crate next to the grade drawers is filled with our test folders. These are just two coated paper folders I stapled together to use as privacy folders during test taking times. This little filing cabinet is where I store each classes tests. One of my coworkers was getting rid of it and I snatched it up since it matched my room perfectly!

Here's a view of the teacher table area from the opposite side of the room.

In this view you can see our word wall and anchor chart bulletin boards. These two boards are going to be filled up as the year goes on as a place for my students to look back and review key concepts and ideas.

I created the pennant banners using a Silhouette Cameo, cardstock, small clothespins, and twine. Here's a little trick I developed to display anchor charts. I use binder clips to hang the charts. The black part holds the charts together, and I use the back silver side to hang them from a nail or hook.

Looking out from my teacher table, this is what you see.

This wall is where storage happens! It's also home to our library and what I call the "Math Wall."

I use these small, medium, and large Sterilite shoeboxes to house all of our math manipulatives. The large turquoise bins are from Michaels. I got them for a 60% end of summer discount and they each only cost about $3!! I use those to store those big and bulky supplies like Kleenex, paper towels, Clorox wipes, and bottles of hand sanitizer.

Since I no longer teach ELA, I spent a good bit of time paring down my library. I stuck with content buckets for Math, Science, and Social Studies. Then I put together a bins that all teachers need holidays and school themes.

Here's a view of our Math Wall. The addition and subtraction strategy posters come from Amy Lemons.

The giant number line is one of my favorite things in my classroom. My students use the number line all the time during Math workshop. 

This storage cabinet is where we display our ClassDojo Points Clubs.

Each time a student earns 100 points on ClassDojo their number magnet will move to that club. This is a fun way to celebrate without giving candy or toy rewards. They also earn a brag tag each time they join a new club.

Here's the view of the front of our room.

 Here's a closer look at some of the details including my calendar, number posters from The Bubbly Blonde Teacher, and hand signals inspired by these from The Tattooed Teacher.

To the left of the board you can see the Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, our rules, and our giant hundreds chart.

Our giant hundreds chart is another tool that my students use constantly during math stations. The number word posters are also from Amy Lemons and you can find them here.

To the right of the board you'll see our clock and our helper boards.

Each class has a helper board. The ClassDojo Master is the person who earns the most points on ClassDojo each week. This person is a helper plus they get to pick our GoNoodle brain breaks for the week. Instead of having class jobs this year since I switch classes midday I decided to simplify and have a boy and girl helper each week. These students do any and all odd jobs like passing papers and bringing things to the office. I randomly select them each week. 

Here's a few other details from our room.

I hope you enjoyed touring my classroom. If you want to save this post for future classroom design and setup inspiration or want to share the post with other teachers, you can save the image below to your Pinterest boards! Hugs, kisses, and tell your mom and 'dem I said hey!