I came across this linky (and loads of ideas that I'm making this week for my firsties) from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits while reading an update from The Very Busy First Graders. Since I am on February vacation this week, I've been enjoying a week long "Hall Pass." It's been great to sleep in, hang with my dogs (Toby and Winston) and catch up on reality TV. Of course, I'm doing school work here and there. Teachers never truly get a vacation. Here's what I have to share according to the following.
I would say my favorite product is my Informational Text Feature Scavenger Hunt. It also happens to be my newest product. In it, I feature a clue book with clues about each informational text feature. To hunt for clues, students search for answers with examples hung up in the hall or in one's classroom (heading, title, index, glossary, captions, etc.) My product includes the colorful signs, clue book and answer key-- you just add your own examples.
My first grade colleague and I put together this activity for our Family Literacy Night, and it was a huge success. Here is me hunting for clues. Looks like I spy the Table of Contents.
My favorite area in my classroom? This is a tough one. I try to build cozy areas that inspire learning in all pockets of my classroom. My room regularly features an author corner, listening station, math center and cozy reading area (separate from the main "rug" area). As far as "favorite" goes, I would have to say that it's my large rug/ classroom library combo. As you can see it's colorful, lined with books all facing outwards for the children to see and celebrates reading. It also features an area to highlight our author study, calendar information, my Boston College rocking chair and plenty of benches.
What's my signal for transitions? I honestly don't have anything catchy, for I build my classroom expectations so that I don't need one. From day one, I talk with my students about the importance of helping me move from one activity to the next. I explain how I need their help; we don't want to lose valuable learning time while I struggle to get their attention.
Before we transition, I remind them of what I want. You will usually hear me say "I'm looking for leaders who will go back to their seats ready for mathematics with their journal open." I highlight role models during transition time nonstop, "I'm so proud of Carrie, she knew we were done with our slates, and that I am now ready to start read aloud. Look how she is not talking to her neighbor, but has her eyes on me giving me the quiet signal."
I find that setting the precedent for effective transitions and positively reinforcing those "helping me out" with the flow of activities is the most effective for me. In addition to that, however, I throw in an occasional flick of the lights, a Brain Break activity, song to "get the wiggles out" and a good old "stand up and stretch."
How do I keep my sanity? Who is sane, really? A large iced coffee is a must. Something from my teacher candy jar works at times, too. I think the thing at school that keeps me the most grounded, though, are my colleagues whom I consider to be some of my closest friends. When times get tough, we are there for each other for the much needed, instant venting--no questions asked. I honestly can't imagine teaching without them. We eat lunch together, text, facebook go out to a dinner or whatever else we need to stay grounded and connected to one another.
There you have it, my "Hall PASS." Be sure to visit Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits to read what others have shared.