Monday, April 25, 2016

3 Stress Relieving Tips for Long Term Sub Plans

Getting ready for a substitute is really a pain.  As a teacher, it’s one of those things where you think, “Am I really that sick........I’m not dying............ NAH, it’s not worth ALL the extra prep.” However, sometimes you have no other choice. I recently was put into a position where I had to prepare sub plans for a long term leave.  I did my usual 14 pages (Yes I “may” be a little obsessive that everything goes how I want it to go.....) of details on how we run our classroom, where everything is located, what the students are expected to do and when they are expected to do it, which students to keep close, which students could lead the class, which students have health issues........ this list goes on and on (as I am sure you know). Of course, after that I still had to write all of the detailed plans on each lesson for every subject.  At this point I realized how much of a control freak I am when it comes to my class and think to myself, “I know this sub is good (because I hand picked her), however she is not me. Soooooo, how can I make it easier for her to connect to my kiddos quickly?” Then, it dawned on me............ just show her the language I use and the format I may use for teaching and learning. This way at least some parts of the day are already familiar to my kiddos. Here are 3 tips that have helped me feel at ease:
1. I wrote my plans so that each day of the week they were doing the same type of activities but using different texts/skills for each subject. For example:

2. I made interchangeable Anchor Charts. First, I pre-made each Anchor Chart with the teaching point at the top and any important learning points that wouldn’t change no matter what the subject.

Then I used regular paper and Elmer’s repositionable glue to add the pages that the substitute would actually be writing on. 


All she had to do was read the book, use the teaching point I had already written, then model the skill by changing out the colored paper according to the different answers for each text.

3. When your up to it, Facetime or Skype your kiddos.  I have done this with the kiddos in my classroom while I have been out. It has lifted their spirits and mine. It also shows that even though I am out of the room I am still a part of their learning, their lives, and I am in touch with the sub. So I still know everything!

Do you have any other tips we could add to this list to ease the amazingly stressful substitute planning? I would love to hear them!

See ya next time in paradise!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Daily Time Saver Signs

There are a few things that always make me smile in the morning. The first one may be the most important, as it makes the others possible. 

A cup of coffee and now I am smiling, and ready to meet the rest of the day.

As I open the door to the calm, quiet, and empty classroom, the source of another smile awaits. Approaching the front of the room, this is the sight that greets me.

You might be wondering what is so special about this. Well, for years, I’ve been spending precious minutes each and every day, posting the relevant information for the day. Even a few moments a day adds up to hours over the course of a year. So, take a closer look and I’ll explain.

Before school began this year, I created these daily time saver signs to go along with the school-wide sports theme. The today’s date sign stays in the same location with a strip of magnetic tape attached to the back. The month and year signs can be easily changed out. There are thirty-one baseball date signs connected to a binder ring. Each day, the day sign is flipped, and the ring hangs on a magnet hook. 

 In our class, there is a helper of the day. Twenty students in the class mean there are 20 soccer ball signs. Flip one over and we are ready to go. The small football signs show the rotation class of the day, and these baseball signs indicate the captain of each team. There is a daily reminder sign for each day of the week. For each day, names of students and times they leave the room for support are listed. The names are blocked out in this photo.

Flipping the signs mentioned so far takes about five seconds or less.

This section of the board is for the essential questions of the day. If you plan on teaching a grade more than one year, these are well worth the time it takes to make them. There are also many TPT sellers who have done the work for you.

 I have all of the standards questions organized in a tabbed notebook. At the beginning of each unit or quarter, I pull all of the signs we will need. Next, the signs are placed in a pocket chart, organized and ready to move to the board as needed.

 So there you go, I'm ready for the day. A little work upfront saves precious time each day. Can you see me smiling? 

As a gift to you, these Daily Time Saver Signs are a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teacher store, Lolly's Locker.


Monday, April 11, 2016

3 Changes That Cause PANIC!

I am a girl who constantly craves change. I change my hair. I change my classroom. I change my wardrobe (although my budget has a hard time keeping up with this change!). I even change my furniture around every so many months. I think it might stem from my constant moving as a kid. I have lived in 37 different houses. If I'm not packing up and changing my scenery every so often, I get antsy.

As much as I like some change, because I think it leads to new adventures and fresh perspectives; I also fear changes. Some changes actually have me wanting to hide in a corner or cry myself to sleep.

Here are three changes that can cause a little panic!
Change number one has to do with hair mistakes! I like to think of myself as a person who is adventurous and brave when it comes to hair decisions. I have tried pretty much everything from color to cut. I have been a blonde, brunette, and even a red-head! I've had long hair and even had a pixie. {I went a little overboard after seeing the movie Ghost! Yes, Demi Moore looked adorable. Me, I just looked like a boy with a bad haircut.}

Nothing is worse than a bad haircut (not even stone washed jeans and a matching jacket)! Although I will say the majority of the time, I am happy with the outcome. But that 1 or 2 mistakes has scared me for life. More times can I count my hairdresser has tried to talk me out of my need for change. Most times I don't listen. Every time I have a little regret. I'm still trying to hold on to growing my hair out, but knowing me, I'll probably cave and cut it short.

Change number two has to do with leaving the classroom. I have been a teacher since 1997. I feel like teaching is a part of my identity. This past year I left the classroom and moved into an Admin role- Student Support Specialist. It has been quite a change. I'm still technically a teacher but on assignment. This is where the confusion sets in. The title of the job indicates that I will still be working with kids. However, it doesn't specify how and all the other changes that come with it. I had no idea how much this change would impact me. I didn't know how much I would miss the familiarity of eating with and talking to my team or how I would miss the ah-ha moment that comes with teaching and learning. I have a new team now, and I still support my old team and a few other teams. But this change took some time to get used to. I did learn to understand that the bigger picture isn't always what we think it is. It has left me thinking how many times can my principal have been right about things (which really annoys me, as I enjoy being the one who is right).  It has also forced me to change my thinking about those little devils in the classroom. At first, this change gave me a need to increase my anxiety meds! But as time has gone on, I have had the chance to see that a little change is necessary. Below you will see the fun I have had being one student's behavior reward as we brought a lot of change to one brown box. (Ah... the things you can do with a box, but that is a whole other story.)

Change number three almost gave me a heart attack! It was changing computers. My Mac crashed about 2 weeks ago. It was a sad sad day. Needless to say, I had to get another one. {Not the best timing, but had to be done.} When I finally got my brand new Mac I was pretty excited. A feeling of euphoria quickly turned into to full on panic. New Pages? No! No! No! I have been avoiding new Pages for about 3 years. I made the mistake of updating it when it first came out (because I love change so much, I always update everything! It also keeps your computer relevant). I quickly realized my mistake. I tend to believe that companies, such as Apple try to improve products as time goes on. Not in this case. The new pages may be a nicer Word Processing document, but not great for creativity. I searched the Mac forums, Youtube, and the entire Internet! All the reviews were the same- nobody likes New Pages! So I reinstalled Pages 09 and went back to work. However, when my new Mac came, there wasn't a CD/DVD drive. How was I going to get Pages 09 back? That ended up being quite a feat. What I can say is New Pages has one nice feature- I like the editing tools to the right of my work. What I hate is you can't copy a page from one document to the other. WHAT? Does that even make sense? I just can't understand the idea of this. I also dislike how thumbnails are not set up by default and when you add them you have to reopen them every time you go back into a document. Or you can just open it and have the thumbnails be blank for a few minutes causing a slight panic attack until they come back on. All in all this change was for the best because I have a new computer complete with Pages 09! If you're a Mac lover like me (although I'm a little mad at them right now), and you use your computer for creative work, the answer lies in a portable CD/DVD drive which you can purchase at Amazon for about $20, and an old copy of Pages 09 {also available at Amazon for about $27.} Save yourself the opportunity for change on this one! It will also save you the increased chance of coming down with a stress-induced condition.

On the brighter side, I'm up for a change of pace in the next few weeks... off to Hawaii! That's a change I can look forward to. (Except the 6 hour time change! But who can complain about Hawaii?!)

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day!

How are you going to celebrate Earth Day this year?  

We will have many talking points about recycling, pollution and our environment in my classroom on Earth Day for sure.  But my lessons on taking care of our earth doesn't just happen on Earth Day. 

On a daily basis I activity model ways to repurpose items for use in our classroom. 
 I bring in materials with the labels still on them and we brainstorm ways that the materials can be repurposed.  After the materials are used in our classroom the students see how successful the repurposing is, days later students are bringing in additional items for us to use!  You can collect a class set of anything you would need in no time.

Here are a few examples of how we all repurpose items in our classroom.

Gum containers are perfect for math manipulatives and last much longer that ziplock bags.

Who doesn't drink coffee?  These creamer containers are perfect for our Homemade Water Colors!  The spout allows for the students to pour just the right amount of watercolor for their project.  

So how many markers do you throw away during a school year?  Keep the caps!!  The caps are great math manipulatives for patterns and collecting color data.  We use them in our counting jars and the kids love them.  They also make the perfect game pieces for your board games too!

This is the coolest repurpose item we use in our classroom today.  The net bags that held our playground balls were hard to carry with little hands and after a month the bag had holes in it.   So now we arrive to recess in style.  The equipment manager is by far the favorite classroom job!

HaPpY EaRtH DaY!