Saturday, 20 December 2014

Classroom Management & Gift Giving {Christmas 2014}

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh...... That is the sound of a crazy month at school that has come to an end.
I am uber blessed this year to have a great class of kiddos, which made this December a little different than other years..... But nevertheless, it was still nutty and very busy!
For the past 2 years (in order to maintain a little sanity throughout December) I have introduced my students to a 'ticket system'. Last year I ran it a lot different (see post here). This year, I purchased a roll of tickets and gave students tickets for various things
(i.e. agenda signed, having books out on desk without being told, completing homework, beating their mad minute math scores, demonstrating kindness etc.).
The students held onto their tickets until the last day of school before the break and then put their tickets in for various prizes. Last year I held an auction, but this year I decided to do a blind raffle.
I purchased various items within the last month to raffle off.
Here are a few:

I wrapped each prize so that no "pickiness" or "greed" set in!
I numbered each prize and a numbered brown bag to match.
 20 prizes were up for grabs!
 The students walked around with their earned tickets and dropped them into the bags of choice. They were not allowed to touch or pick up any of the prizes. Just a good ol' fashion game of chance!
The rules--> -NO complaining or saying "that's not fair", as every student had tickets to use. The more you earned throughout the month of December, the better your chances.
-Clapping and positive words only for the students that won.
-Some students may win 0, 1, 2.... or more! It was raffle of chance.

At the end of the raffle, I then gave out my little gift to the students. Every year I struggle with what to give them (as they have so much).

So I made these:
Homework Passes
 Their reaction was priceless. BEST GIFT EVER, yet so easy.
When I check the students agendas and homework each morning, they can use this pass (one time) to forego a homework check if they did not complete it and will not lose a recess to catch up. Or, they may use them to extend a due date on an assignment by 1 day.
As for gifts for my colleagues in the portable, I decided to make t-shirts to commemorate our year so far....
"Portable People"
Livin' off the grid since September 2014.
So there ya have it!
A little behaviour management tool and a little gift idea if you're stumped for something to give your upper grade kiddos.
Have a wonderful Christmas Break!

Monday, 15 December 2014

T'was the Last 5 Days Before Christmas Break

Oh-my-word! How can there possibly be 5 more days before the Christmas Break?!? This year has really flown by so far, never mind the past few weeks. Maybe it's the lack of snow on the ground that is making it seem 'too soon' to be Christmas?!
Here's what's on tap in my room this week. Nothing crazy.....but just enough to get us through the nuttiness, as while keeping in school mode.
1.) Finishing our Christmas Cards for the St. Vincent de Paul Society:
Every year the St. Vincent de Paul Society sends out Christmas gift packages to those who are less fortunate in our community. They have asked some of our students to create Christmas Cards this year to attach to their packages.
A few ideas for the messages were:

I had each student in my class choose a symbol that best fit their message of choice and create a stained glass inspired card. A really easy 'go to' art piece that looks beautiful when it is complete.

Coloured pencil, crayon or pastels all look lovely.

2.) Movie Viewing Analysis: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
Last year I used this Literary Analysis Pack and I loved it! I am planning on using it again this year.

Each student will be provided a "viewing guide" as a reminder of all that we have learned, thus far throughout the year. Elements such as Character Traits, Plot Structure, Fictional Features etc. are all present on their guide. The students will have to analyze this movie and determine the important elements. I love this activity.

My plan is to make up some crockpot hot cocoa. The students will hopefully be relaxed and won't even realize they are still doing work.

3.) Shared Reading of The Gift of the Magi:
Students are very familiar with the popular Christmas stories, but not many have not heard of The Gift of the Magi.
You can do so much with this story! Students can really interpret this story in so many ways, yet it still brings us all back to one main message about the act of giving and receiving.  
We are going to be using this text to launch some word study activities, as well as to learn to annotate various stories so that we are able to comprehend them better.
4.) Continue our Advent Reflections:
As mentioned in my last post, my students have been participating in daily written and oral Advent Reflections using Busted Halo's Digital Advent Calendar. I LOVE this site!
I will be playing this video at the start of each reflection, this week, to remind students of the reason behind the season.

Here was Sunday's Reflection. The kids like Monday's, because they get to choose from Saturday's, Sunday's or Monday's reflections... and some are easier than others.

 5.) Completing our Perspective Writing
(To see more about here for last weeks post):
 The students were asked to choose a villain from a book or movie that they are familiar with and convince Santa that they should receive gifts, after all.

 Here is what the letter needed to include:

Lots more on the go.... but a good jump on the week :)

Have a great last 5 days!!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Gingerbread Week

I don't normally get caught up into themes when I teach, but I find myself drawn to them this year. Maybe it is the young grade I am teaching or maybe it is just because some of these packages are so darn cute! It's going to be a gingerbread week in our class. I found this great language package that I am so excited to use with my first graders. This package has some great vowel sound activities/centers, as well as reading and writing projects for your students.  

Other things going on this week are:

...decorating our own gingerbread men. 

...reading different gingerbread stories. 

...writing our own gingerbread stories.

...watching the gingerbread story

...learning the gingerbread man song

Decorating for the Holidays

I went into the school today and decorated for the last two weeks. This is how the chimney turned out. I can't wait to see the student reaction tomorrow morning. 

I found the stockings at Micheal's craft store and writing on them was easy-- I used a sharpie. I also glued a pocket envelope on the back of them for their Christmas coupon. I am giving each student a gift card for a free book from the Scholastic book club. 

Only 10 school days left before the Holidays begin. I hope everyone has a great week this week. 

In my spare time...

I talked about making a wedding cake as a gift for a friend a couple weeks back. I'm including a picture of the wedding cake I made. It is a chocolate and vanilla cake, with swiss buttercream meringue icing and a chocolate ganache poured on top. I found the recipe to this delicious cake at . 
  The wedding was fantastic and the cake was a hit as well. 


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Preparing for Christmas in an Upper Grade

'Ok, how is it already the 2nd week of December????? With only 2 weeks of school left before the break, I feel like I haven't even touched the surface of the list of my December ideas.
Here are a few things I have begun or will dive into this week....
One thing I have really enjoyed doing with my class thus far is opening our 'Digital Advent Calendar' each day.  A colleague and I were talking after school one day on how we can incorporate Advent more readily into our classrooms and how to bring back the true meaning of Christmas. He found a great site called "Busted Halo", which has many great resources for reaching pre-teens and teens. Each day we use the Advent Calendar as a launching point for a deeper discussion about Advent. Each window includes a quote from someone that is famous or part of history, reflecting on "waiting" and other various ideas. I also usually put on instrumental Christmas music and have the students partake in a independent written reflection (i.e. on what the quote means to them). It is 20 minutes of the day where there is a definite feeling of peace in our classroom. The students have really enjoyed our discussions and it's really hitting home for many of them.

To add a little fun into History classes lately, I have been writing up some scenerios and having the kids partake in some improv! They LOVE it. I choose names randomly and make groups of 3-4. It's been a hoot.

 To continue to improve their creativity (and the ability to think on the spot) I found some great Christmas Improv Drama Cards by Inspire Teachers during the TPT Cyber Sale that I have been sprinkling in our weekly drama classes. Great product :)
The kids have 30 seconds to talk with their group about the scenario and then it's show time. I have been thoroughly impressed with what they've been coming up with.

We are continuing to work on keeping our writing in order and detailed. This week we are going to convince our readers by using text evidence, with a little writing pack called "Dear Santa I Can Explain". The students are going to be asked to choose a villain from a book or movie that they are familiar with and convince Santa that they should receive gifts, after all. I am sure some of you are thinking--- "You're grade 6's and 7's will want to do this?!" Yes! That's why I love em'! They are still youthful and should still be encouraged to embrace the fun of Christmas :)

Behaviour/Classroom Management this month?
I purchased a roll of raffle tickets at the Dollarstore.
Throughout the day, I randomly give students tickets for various things (i.e. having their books out and ready without being told, being kind, using positive words, helping others, helping out, being a good leader etc.). Students have been saving these tickets for the Christmas Raffle I will hold on the last day of school. I will have various wrapped gifts for the students to put their tickets in. The more you earn, the better the chance :)

Lots more things on the go.... so stay tuned :)

Happy Weekend :)