SHHH!!!! It's Quiet Time!

Good morning everyone! Just stopping by with a quick management tip that I L.O.V.E! It's called Quiet Time. This idea originally came from a Responsive Classroom one-day seminar I went to five years ago. I don't remember how you're supposed to do it, but this is how I do it. :)

At my school, I have four supervising duties per week, two of which are lunch recess duties.  When recess was over, I was having a management problem because often my students would be in the classroom waiting for me to start the lesson and I wouldn't be there right away. As a supervisor, I am usually one of the last ones in the building. I have to get everyone inside, lock the doors, and possibly fill out incident reports, mediate recess issues, and  talk to teachers who may have had students with recess issues. Sometimes I could take me 10 minutes or more to deal with recess issues! You can only imagine what my students were doing while I wasn't in the room...

Enter Quiet Time. Quiet time is a way students can regroup and refocus after being away from the classroom for 45 minutes for lunch and recess. It starts when the recess bell rings at 12:15 and ends at 12:30. Most kids don't get the full 15 minutes because it takes a few minutes to get inside and situated. Also during the winter when kids are wearing their snow gear, it takes even longer to get into the classroom. Here are the rules:

I've had to be pretty strict on what they can do. I want the options to be quick to clean up, so that when we're done, we can transition quickly to the next subject. I used to allow kids to make things with scissors, glue, tape, and staples, but not only was it a huge mess to clean up, but they would be up and walking around the room and I would often find little scraps of paper on the floor. So now we stick to coloring a picture. I've also told them they can have only one piece of paper per day because some of them were coloring 5 pictures in 15 minutes, and I'd like quality drawings. Read about my 5 Color Rule! I also used to allow students to rest at their desks with their heads down, but that often lead to talking. 

Here's why I LOVE Quiet Time for Students:

  1. Students have a routine to do when they come in. 
  2. It's a time to allow students to regroup and refocus back on school after lunch and recess.
  3. Nobody is missing instruction time because they are being pokey by their coat hook. Instead they're missing out on their own free time!
  4. Coloring a picture is an option. With all of our curriculum and standards, a lot of the coloring and art projects have been cut. Now they can have that creative outlet again.
  5. It's the PERFECT time to take a bathroom break!
Here's why I LOVE Quiet Time for Me:
  1. I can mediate recess issues if necessary without feeling rushed to get back and start teaching.
  2. When I get back to the room, I actually use this time as a teaching or intervention time! I will pull an extra reading group, do a running record, or pull a small group for reteaching, and I don't have to worry about what the others are doing.

So that's my Quiet Time in a nutshell. What do you think? If you give it a try, let me know how it goes for you!

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2012 Bloggy Best and Brightest Linky

Christina over at *Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge* is hosting a fab linky party to celebrate 2012.

The best thing I did this year was to start blogging! I started my lil ol' blog in July of 2012, and it's been such a rewarding experience. I was so nervous at first... why would anyone think my ideas were any good? But the awesome thing about every. single. blogger is that we ALL have fabulous ideas, whether we have 1 follower or 1,000 followers! One other benefit I've gained from blogging is actually reading other blogs. I learned quickly that you need to read and follow others' blogs if you want followers of your own, and in the process of doing that, I've picked up so many amazing tips, tricks, lesson ideas, etc. So THANK YOU!! :)

I would say my favorite post was probably more of a post for me... it was the one titled Keeping Up with the Joneses. I'm kinda feeling that way again right now, so it's a good reminder for me to keep doing my thing no matter what others are doing :) But you might like my Fiction Frenzy post. I love it too... maybe because the lessons were so successful in my class!

My favorite paid product I made was probably my I Have, Who Has Differentiated Telling Time. I just love how everyone can play this game, no matter their level. I'm thinking about making another set, as this one seemed geared more towards a higher bunch of kiddos.
My favorite freebie has to be my "What's the Scoop?" current events activity. You can read my blog post about it HERE. I love how quick and easy it is for me as a teacher, plus I'm fulfilling one of my social studies benchmarks! Win-win!!
Lastly, some of my favorite blogs I've started following this year are (in no particular order):





 and Jean at Diving into 2nd Grade

I could go on and on forever listing my "must read" blogs!

Alright, off to tend to my screaming baby... poor thing is so tired. She just needs to lay down and sleep for Pete's sake!

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Linky Party! 2013 New {School} Year's Resolutions

I wanted to post my New {School} Year's Resolutions on my blog, so that there would be an accountability factor (that's where you come in!). When I feel like someone's checking in on me, I have more of a sense of urgency to see a project through to the end. Then I got to thinking... maybe others would want to join in and share their New Years resolutions for school. So let's throw a linky party, shall we?
I'm normally not a New Years Resolutions kinda girl. I just don't like setting lofty goals for myself (like losing 20 pounds, which I need to do, by the way...) that are too long-term to see through to the end. There are a few things that I'd like to get back on track with at school, and what better time to start than right after Winter Break!

Here are my New {School} Year's Resolutions:

1. Make a list of "Things to Do Before I Leave" and do them EVERY NIGHT before I go home.
2. Send my newsletter home Friday morning before 8:20.
3. Be more diligent about recording Math Boxes in my grade book.
4. Create one thing per month for TPT.

I think these goals are reasonable and definitely doable. Here's a little explanation about my goals.

I'm exhausted at the end of the day, and I often forget what I need to do in order to get ready for the next day. I want to make a list and hang it by my desk, almost like a check list, so that I'm not wasting time or wandering around my room wondering what to do. I think it will help me stay more focused, so that I can get home to my babies sooner. Some of the things I'm planning on putting on my list are: change schedule and date on front board, write morning message, set out new guided reading books, read/comment on Writing notebooks (from Daily 5), clean my desk, etc. Sometimes I'm so beat from the day I just leave my room a mess, and then when I come the next day I'm scrambling to get ready for the kiddos to come. I don't like that feeling, and I want to change that.

I used to be so good at #2 and #3! But when my district started encouraging us to email our weekly newsletters instead of sending a paper copy... yeah... If I didn't have time during the day on Friday, I would tell myself, "You can just do it tonight and email it later tonight" which would turn into Saturday... then Sunday... then Monday... and by then, what was the point? I also used to be so good at recording Math Boxes (an EveryDay Math thing. Think spiral review) in my grade book. A few years ago, we aligned the math boxes to the skills we assess for our report cards. And every day I would record Math Boxes in my grade book. But then this year I experimented with Math Workshop (which was a big time fail!), and got out of the habit. I need to get back into that habit, because I DO NOT like a stack of 22 math journals staring at me at the end of the week, waiting to be entered into the grade
book.

#4 is a personal/professional goal. I just started up my TPT store about a month ago, and I would like to add more items to my store. I have plenty of lessons created, but I just need to pretty them up and put them out there!

What are your New {School} Year's Resolutions? Link up, and let's support and encourage each other! :)

Oh, and don't forget about my Pencil Sharpener Giveaway! Ends Friday!

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The BEST Pencil Sharpener? REALLY??? Review and GIVEAWAY!

So I've been seeing TONS of reviews for the Classroom Friendly Supplies Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener, and I was intrigued. VERY intrigued. However, I was reluctant to spend 25 of my hard-earned dollars on something that may or may not live up to its name. I sent a message to Troy over at Classroom Friendly Supplies and was chosen to review one of his Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpeners AND give one away to one of you lucky ducks!! I will do my best to be honest and detailed with my review. The Rafflecopter is at the end :)
A Little History:
I HATE pencil sharpeners! I hate them so much, I personally will only use mechanical pencils. However, my students are not allowed to use them, so they use the regular kind. In my 8 years of teaching, I have gone through 3 school-grade electric sharpeners, 2 home-use electric sharpeners, one wall mounted, hand crank sharpener (that I just got THIS YEAR and it NEVER worked properly!!), and countless handheld mini sharpeners for colored pencils. I've had it up to here (hand pointing over my head) with pencil sharpeners!!!

My Review!
I got the package on a Saturday and did a little happy dance in my living room. I opened it up and was a little disappointed to see that there were no directions. When I told my coworker that I wanted directions, she looked a me like, "Seriously, Angela? You just stick the pencil in the hole and turn the crank. It's not hard." I guess after going through a bazillion sharpeners, I didn't want to wreck this one! You can either play around with it to figure it out (which is what I did) or you can click HERE to watch a video. After watching the video just now, I think I should have done that instead of the trial-and-error method! There was also an "extra" metal piece in the box, which I have now inferred it can be used to mount the pencil sharpener onto a sturdy surface.

OK, so how does this thing work? Just so you know, you will need BOTH hands to use the sharpener. First you have to pull out the metal plate.
Then you pinch the black button thingies (I'm sure that's the technical term...) and while you're still holding the  buttons, using your other hand, you insert the pencil through the metal piece and into the sharpener.
Notice the slew of pencil sharpeners in the background that DON'T work! :(
Then with your weaker hand, you hold the top of the pencil sharpener sturdy, and with your strong hand you turn the crank. You can tell when the pencil is sharpened because the crank will become loose and easy to turn. You can also hear that the pencil is no longer being sharpened.
You pinch those black buttons again, pull out your pencil, and voila! A seriously SHARP pencil! YESSS!!! Here's some evidence as to how sharp those pencils get:
Sharp, right? Now the real test... can a bunch of second graders handle this?

I showed my students several times how to use it, and in the first few days I wanted to chuck the sharpener out the window. Not because my kiddos couldn't use it, but because they were using it all. the. time! I think they were breaking their pencils on purpose so they could use it! So I gave them each a turn to sharpen a brand-new pencil for our class, and that took away some of the novelty.

Pros:
  • It really does work! And the point is perfect!
  • It really is quiet! It's not silent (sorry), but it isn't deafening or distracting.
  • After two weeks of use, it is showing NO signs of slowing down or wearing out!
  • It stops sharpening when the pencil is completely sharpened. No oversharpening!
  • When sharpening a brand new pencil, it is SUPER FAST! I was truly amazed by how little time I spent sharpening new pencils.
  • Those teeny, tiny, 1-inch pencils kids like to use don't fit in the sharpener!! HOORAY!! That's actually how two of my previous sharpeners got broken; because someone stuck a tiny pencil into it and we couldn't get it out. I can't stand itty bitty pencils!
  • Both lefties and righties can use it by just facing it in the direction that feels most comfortable
  • You can buy a replacement blade if needed.
  • I haven't had to do this yet, but if lead gets stuck inside, it's an easy fix. Just watch the video that shows you how.
  • Shipping was FAST and FREE!
  • It's cute :)
  • The kids LOVE it!
Cons:
  • No directions 
  • You can't just stick a pencil in and go... there are a few steps involved, which gets kind of tedious.
  • I wish I didn't have to hold the sharpener steady while I'm sharpening. You naturally want to hold onto the pencil, and it's an awkward feeling not to. If I had a place to mount it to a table or counter, that might help.
  • The container that holds the shavings is small and needs to be emptied often.
  • The container that holds the shavings isn't secured well to the sharpener, so it does leave a bit of a mess behind.
  • The kids LOVE it... yes I know I said that was a "pro" above, but my students are purposely breaking their pencils so they can use it. LOL!
The only thing I can't speak for is how well it sharpens colored pencils. I do not allow students to put colored pencils in electric sharpeners, and they are not allowed to put them in my Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpener either. I just don't want the blades to get gunked up.

The Bottom Line... Should you buy this?
YES YOU SHOULD!!! Even though there are a few quirks about the sharpener, I feel the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. The true test will be whether or not the sharpener can withstand months/years (?) of sharpening. I've only had this sharpener in my classroom for two weeks... we'll see how well it works by the end of the year. The good news is that you can buy replacement blades if your blades should go dull, which I have noticed isn't usually true for those expensive, electric sharpeners.

And now for the good news! Troy at Classroom Friendly Supplies is giving one of these sharpeners away to one of you! Merry Christmas, sweet friends! You can enter below through the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway will be ending on Sunday, December 30th at midnight!

What's Next for Me?
And as for me, I will be purchasing an additional sharpener. I received a blue one, but I think I want a red one as well, to match the red accents in my classroom. It will also shorten the lines at the pencil sharpening area :) There are four other teachers at my school who all tried mine out and want to buy one, and that's just in my wing of the school! I'm going to ask a few more if they want in, because the more you buy, the cheaper it is. Maybe we can even get the school to foot the bill!
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PANIC MODE!!! Student gifts?

Every year I use my Scholastic bonus points to "buy" my students a Christmas/Winter book for Christmas. WEELLLLLL... this year I TOTALLY forgot to submit my order until LAST SATURDAY! I was convinced there was NO WAY my order would be here in 6 days (two of those days being weekend days...). I waited and waited, holding out hope, with no back up plan, and today... SURPRISE! My package arrived! YAY!!!

I was opening the box after school, taking out the books so I could take them home and wrap them, when my teammate stopped in my room to say goodbye. She saw what I was doing and suddenly said, "Is that the book with all the swears in it?" Wha wha WHAATTT?!?!? She read the back cover to me, and it was something about the kids beating each other up, lying, stealing, smoking cigars and swearing! And I was going to send this home to some of my sweet 2nd graders??? I don't think so! I was SHOCKED that Scholastic even sold a book like this. Have you heard of it?
Now I actually have never read the book, so I don't know if it's as bad as it sounds, but I'm not about to chance it. I ordered it in the first place because I noticed it was a higher level (P or Q I think?) so I thought it would be a good read for my high kids. Yeeaahhh, not so much...

Now I was REALLY in panic mode! Tomorrow's the last day of school and I have NOTHING!! I wandered around aimlessly at Walmart tonight for 45 minutes, wracking my brain. Then the light bulb went on! I ended up with this:



It's a box of crayons and a note pad tied together with a little sign I made that says "May your days be merry and bright!"What kid doesn't love new crayons? I don't know if I can take full credit for this. I may or may not have seen something like this on Pinterest or another teacher blog, but I honestly can't remember. If it's your idea or you know where it came from, let me know :) I am very happy with how they turned out, especially on such short notice.

I'm sure you are all ahead of the game and already have your Christmas gifts put together, so keep this in the back of your mind for next year. Maybe even around the Back to School season. You could buy the school supplies for cheap then and just store them for a few months.

One more day! WE CAN DO THIS!!

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Gifts for Grown Ups: Update

We are a few days into making our gifts for our grown ups. I know it's still a bit early for most to start working on their holiday gifts, but I had to start early because we're making a calendar. Read all about it HERE! I didn't want to overwhelm my kiddos with twelve drawings, so we're doing one a day. Here are some of my favorites:

January

February

March

April

May

We have a lot of catching up to do if these are going to go home on Friday! Yikes!!

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Silence for Sandy Hook



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Pinterest Party: Holiday Style!

On the last day before Winter Break, I always have a holiday party. We're always "All Business" in my class, but it's tricky to wrangle 22 second graders just DAYS before SANTA is coming!!! For the last five years my students have made gingerbread houses out of milk cartons, graham crackers, sugary frosting, and assorted candies. It's always fun to see the end product, but I really didn't like doing it. 1. I have to make two vats of frosting, using a total of 6 pounds of powdered sugar and 36 egg whites. Not healthy on multiple levels. 2. They're kind of a pain to build, especially when you're putting the roof on. 3. The mess is ridiculous. 4. I always have a TON of leftovers (that I don't need/want) 5. My room reeks like sugar 6. I can only imagine what parents think when it comes home. Sure it's cute the first day or two, but how do you convince the kiddo that it's time to throw it away? I just don't want to create problems for my students' families.

TIME FOR A CHANGE! I had no idea what to do, so I did what all good teachers do... look on Pinterest! Check out my Christmas in the Classroom board HERE.

Here's my plan. First there will be 3 stations:
Station 1: Magic Reindeer Food. Here's the recipe. How cute is this?! After making the reindeer food, students will decorate a sign and tie it to their bag. Here's the sign I made. Click on it to pick up your own FREE copy!
Station 2: Santa Snack.
Unfortunately, the original blogger took down his/her blog... but it looks like a graham cracker, marshmallows, white frosting, red frosting, gum drops, and red hots. YUM! I haven't decided yet WHEN they will eat it... see below.

Station 3: Crayon Ornament Craft and Silver Bells Matching Game.
 
For the ornaments, you put crayon shavings in between waxed paper, then iron it to melt the crayon shavings. Then put the paper inside an ornament frame, punch a hole, tie a ribbon, and voila! Super cute Christmas craft! I don't think the ornaments will take that long, so when they're done, the can play the Silver Bells matching game. When they get a match, they can eat the Kisses! 

When we're done rotating through stations, I thought I'd show a short Christmas cartoon movie and they can eat snacks. This will also allow time for clean up. I'm still debating if they should eat their Santa Snack after they make it, or wait and eat it during the movie. Since we'll be sugared up for the beginning of the party, I was thinking healthy snacks for the movie: clementines, carrots and dip, pretzels... not too much food though. I've had too much food before and it can take FOREVER to get it all passed out.

Well it all looks good on paper, right? LOL! I have about an hour and 15 minutes for all of this. I think that's doable. I'll just make sure they're all packed up before we go outside for recess, so we can PARTY once we get back inside :)

What are your Holiday/End of the "Year" party plans?


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Christmas Writing Project *FREEBIE* and Winners!

So we've been working on adjectives this week, and I wanted to tie in something festive and Christmasy. So I went to my new favorite *FREE* clip art website: www.mycutegraphics.com and found some adorable clip art. I created five different pages for the kiddos to choose from: elf, Santa, Christmas tree, reindeer, and snowman. They will neatly color the picture FIRST, then brainstorm six adjectives and complete a web. I debated if I wanted them to color first or at the end, but I opted for them to do it first because then their adjectives could include the colors in their drawings. The last step would be to write a story about their picture using the adjectives. Here are some of the pages I made:
This is available to you for FREE in my TPT Store. Just click here!

Also, I did the official, "Pick two numbers between 1 and 5" to the hubs and he picked 1 and 3. So congrats to Cheri and Primary Possibilities for winning my Nonfiction Genres Posters! Check your emails! You can still pick up a copy of the posters by clicking on the picture below.
Have a great night!


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Extreme Blog Makeover + Nonfictions Genres (and Quick Giveaway!) + Another Giveaway

Woah that is a long blog post title!

So I've been wanting to update the look of my blog for a while, and I finally did it last night! I created the old design when I first started this blog, and now that I semi- know what I'm doing, I wanted to spice it up a bit! I made a new header and button, added quick links on the side to my TPT store and Pinterest, and added a "Shout Outs"spot. Even though the hippo and fonts were free, the creators still deserve the recognition :) I also added a little ditty about my hippo obsession in the "About Me" tab on top. The only thing that I'm not crazy on is the grassy background. It doesn't really match the green in my header and button, and I'm kind of a perfectionist. I was going to create a background, but I couldn't figure out how to upload it into Blogger. If you know how, help a girl out!

So of course, after I updated, I happened upon this cute hippo...
Isn't she FAB?! Now I'm torn if I should use her instead of my current hippo. Thoughts? Sidenote: I found her on the website www.mycutegraphics.com. I don't know if I've just been living under a rock, or what, but this site is new to me and is AWESOME! Free clip art for teachers! WOO!!!

Moving on... Last week in reading we've been focusing on the nonfiction genres. I've added to my list of genres covered (thanks CCSS!): informational, biography, and autobiography (the classics), and now the list includes: memoir, manual, recipe, and advertisement. I had a heck of a time trying to define the genres in kid language, especially the difference between an autobiography and memoir (no, they're not the same!). In the process of researching for definitions and books to go with each, I made posters for each genre so I wouldn't forget!
This set is available in my TPT store, but tonight's your lucky night because I'm feeling all Christmas-y and want to give TWO away! All you have to do is leave me a comment with your email address and the Christmas song you like the least. I'm listening to Christmas music as I write this, and I want to know if I'm the only one who thinks "The Little Drummer Boy" is dumb. "Pa rum pa rum pum." Really??? Who says that? Leave your comment by 10:00PM central time on Monday December 10th and I'll randomly choose TWO winners!

Oh, and I'm participating in this giveaway:

Go check it out!

CLEARLY this post highlights my self-diagnosed ADD... LOOK, SQUIRREL!! Thanks for hanging with me until the end!

Gotta get ready for the game tonight! GO PACK GO!!!


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Winners for 102 Follower Giveaway!

I gotta make this quick... my mom is coming over to bake cookies in an hour and I still have to get to the grocery store to pick up my ingredients!!

The winner of Giveaway #1: Holiday/Winter Activities is.......
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner of Giveaway #2: Everyday Activities is......
a Rafflecopter giveaway
YAY! Congrats Sara and Rachel!! Thanks everyone for entering :)

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St. Nick Came to School Today!!! + Funny Story

Anyone out there celebrate St. Nick's Day? It's a BIG DEAL in Southeastern Wisconsin, and from what I'm finding out, it doesn't go much further than that. On the night of December 5th, you put your stocking out and St. Nick fills it with all sorts of trinkets and treats (or a DS, as one of my students told me today...). I think it traces back to a northern European (German) tradition, and many of the people who settled in Southeastern Wisconsin were from that area. If you're interested, you can read more about the holiday here.

So of course, St. Nick had to stop by at school today...
It's kind of hard to tell, but he left the kiddos a holiday themed pencil and candy cane. The kids were so cute when they came in! "Look! St. Nick came last night! Mrs. Nerby, did YOU do this?" Me (nonchalantly): "I don't even know what you're talking about. I didn't see anything this morning." Hahaha!!

Oh and one little funny to keep you laughing tonight. We had our holiday music concert today, and as my kids were leaving the gym after their performance, one girl comes up to me all upset and says, "Mrs. Nerby, ___________ said I was a nut job." WHAT?!?!? My principal overheard, and since I was with the rest of my class, she took my student back into the gym to find out what happened. When they came back, I found out what really happened. Turns out this fifth grader actually said, "nice job!" I couldn't make eye contact with my principal and had to turn away I was laughing so hard! :)

Don't forget about my giveaway! Ends tomorrow at midnight!

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