What you don’t see.

This post is going to be completely transparent, very hard for me to write, and makes me feel very vulnerable. But, here goes anyways. I promised to always be honest with y’all!

I have officially been part of the teacher blog/instagram world for about 2 months and I have already learned so much about it and so much about myself.  I took a week long break from posting to my new Instagram  because I found myself overwhelmed with new ideas, checking to see how many new followers I had gained, and trying to figure out which kinds of posts I had made that got the most likes/traffic.  <— None of these things matter and I know this deep down,  but it really became a habit quickly, I am here to give ideas to people who care to see them and share sweet moments with my kiddos, and keep a memory of all that is the teaching world, not to impress others.  Must keep reminding myself of this!

It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend of the family who isn’t a teacher and he said “OMG Kat I just loved reading your blog, you crack me up, and offer some great words of advice, you seem like the most fun teacher!” that I became inspired again. The fact that he took time out of his busy life to read my words was so flattering, and really reminded me why I started on this venture to begin with.  One of my teacher besties who has a new baby at home told me this week too, that she hadn’t had time to read it yet, and one night during late night feeds this past week read through my old posts and is now doing alternative seating in her classroom this year, she also inspired me. Again, i was reminded of why I chose to start this all up. I don’t know what all of you believe but I know that these people were put in my path this week as gentle reminders about why I do what I do, who I am, and I am so thankful for them.

I don’t know why I let the social media world cripple me, it is so overwhelming seeing so many people producing mass quantities of things to sell on their TPT stores (I’ve sold a whole 2.00 worth of materials so far LOL), decorating their classrooms that literally belong in catalogs, all while having 3 kids at home. Im over here a dog mom, living the single life, struggling to think of one thing to create for my store, continue to go to my classroom and seem to create a bigger mess than when I began, and still can’t find time to get everything done.  So I want to type a little bit for the rest of this post about the things you don’t see in my Instagram posts,  some behind the scenes info and in all honesty a reminder to myself that even though you all might not see all that is my life, it is so busy, and I know all of you are too!  Teaching is a behind the scenes job, most of the work we do is not Pinterest/Instagram worthy, and every last bit of it is SO time consuming.

So what have I been up to since starting this blogging journal that you haven’t seen?

HOURS i mean HOURS of organizing my cabinets in my classroom. I am one of those very lucky people that has tons of built in storage (believe my I know I am lucky, I came from a classroom previously with very little) and you know what happens to those nice built ins every year? Stuff gets crammed in there. Every year my goal is to be a little more organized which means I pull everything out, and put it back in a little less haphazardly and attempt organization.  Are they all matching tubs? Nope.  Would I like them to be? Heck yes! But am I that person? Not at all. lol I am no organization guru, I use the tubs I already have, none of them will probably every match, and I’m OK with that.  If i am even a little more organized than the year before, then I have reached my goal!

Lamination! Uhhh hello! Lamination takes FOREVER, times infinity.  For all of you people who say “oh gosh I just love to cut out lamination,” you are crazy! My thumb is forever indented from all the lamination I have cut out over the years.  The only two great things about lamination is it will last a very long time, and it is a task that you can do in front of the TV, that takes zero brainpower, which is a total win!

Training for a marathon. I have posted a little about this. I haven’t always been into exercise, and have never been a runner (still am not) but I have set this goal for myself this year and intend on completing it. Things I have learned about this so far, running gives you a lot of time to think (which can be a good and bad thing), takes a lot of time to train for, and is exhausting haha.  So for all you runners reading this, you are awesome!!

Throwing my sister 2 baby showers! Those of you that know me, know I am very close to my family, and love my sister dearly.  She is due in late August and my family couldn’t be more excited. However, if you have ever thrown a shower then you know it is also very time consuming, but so rewarding seeing her get prepared for the baby and people loving on her!

Work: I have worked all summer, the opportunity presented itself to do a little work for my district. (I have never typically worked during the summer It was a big project that needed to get done and would really benefit our teachers, plus a little extra money during the summer, I took it as a win for everyone.  It took a lot of time, but I am SO glad I did it.  It actually made me want to work some during the summers, kept me in the habit of getting up in the morning, gave my a little bit of a schedule and also made me feel very productive.

More recently, I have been working on things for my classroom (which is still not finished hah), planning for PD, planning my curriculum, working on 9 weeks overviews, back to school documents, and the list goes on and on.  All while still trying to enjoy the last bit of my summer, hanging out with my friends, attending concerts, going to dinners, plenty of Netflix binges, and more!

Summary of what I am saying? life is busy y’all, and I know all of you are too! If your classroom isn’t done, that is OK! If you aren’t organized? That is fine too! Didn’t get everything done this summer that you would’ve liked? That is OK too! As teachers, we need give ourselves a break more often. I keep seeing the quote everywhere “you can do anything, but not everything.” We are all guilty of trying to do it all, we spread ourselves too thin.  I know each and every one of you have been working tirelessly on all that is life.  That work might be things with your family, your classroom to do list, dedicated time to your personal life, etc. Life is crazy, and there are so many different things that need your time, you are pulled in a million different directions. Know you are awesome! You are going to be the best teacher and are being placed in each of those kiddos lives for a reason, and you will make a difference.  The work you do may not be seen, but I see you, and you are an inspiration!

LOVE you all, and good luck starting your school year!

Kat Scantlin

Back to School Read Aloud Pt. 2

Back to school read aloud- part 2

Hello again! Thanks for coming back for part 2 of my back to school read aloud series! In this series you will find 5 more books for back to school.  There is a TPT resource to go along with the books with a one page resource for everyone. See link at the end of this post to visit my TPT store, each one will be $2.00! There are also links under each book description that will take you to amazon to purchase the books if you don’t already have them 🙂 Most of these books can also be found on scholastic!

Book #1– My Mouth is a Volcano!- by: Julia Cook

What does this book teach: This book i’m sure many of you already know about but it is about why we shouldn’t blurt out, even when we are feeling excited about something we want to say.  It is a great book to set the tone for your classroom and to follow up with your procedures for what to do specifically in your classroom when you have something to tell the class.  

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book will be about?
  • Do you think that the boy really has lava in his mouth? Why? Why not?
  • What is a volcano? (build background knowledge by showing volcano on youtube)

During read aloud:

  • How does the boy feel when he has something to say?
  • How does he feel when he has to wait his turn?
  • Act out with a partner the characters feelings?
  • Do the characters feelings change?

After reading:

  • What should we do when we have something exciting to share with the class?
  • What did we learn from this book?
  • Why did the author write this book?

New words: rumble, grumble, volcano, erupt, emergency, rude

Engaging activity to do with the book: lead class discussion on procedures to get teachers attention and to share information with the class,  could also do the toothpaste activity here, where you squeeze toothpaste out of a tube and try to put it back in, the lesson in that is you can’t put words back so you need to be careful with them.  

Follow up activity– introduce pictures and labels, model activity for students, students will draw and label a picture of what they will do when their mouth is about to erupt.  

Link to buy book on Amazon- My Mouth is a Volcano- by: Julia Cook

Book #2: First Day Jitters- By: Julie Danneberg

What does this book teach: This is a book used far and wide on the first day because it is a first day classic. This book teaches about how feelings on the first day of school with a little twist at the end.  

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What are jitters?
  • Why might we feel jittery when we come back to school?

During read aloud:

  • Why do you think she does not want to get up?
  • Do you think she likes school? Why or why not?
  • What is scary about the first day of school?

After reading:

  • How does the character feel at the end? Does she still feel scared?
  • What was so funny at the end of the book?
  • Share with a partner how you felt before coming to school

New Words: Jitters, moaned, trudged, clammy

Engaging activity to do with the book:  have students act out a feeling they felt for the class and the class will guess what the feeling is.  Could reference emoji chart so they have ideas on faces to make.

Follow up activity– There are a million ideas for this book on pinterest and TPT. You will still find a one page activity in my resource in which the students will select a face

Link to Amazon to buy book- First Day Jitters- By: Julie Danneberg

Book #3: What does it mean to be kind? By: Rana DiOrio

What does this book teach: This book is very simple about ways to be kind to others in our community.  It will spark a great discussion about how we can be kind.

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What does it mean to be kind to you?
  • What do you think this book will teach us?
  • Do we already know some things about being kind?

During read aloud:

  • What have we learned so far?
  • Share with a partner one way we have seen how to be kind in the book

After reading:

  • How will you be kind?
  • Can we think of other ways that we did not see in the book?

New words: fortunate, kind, category, compliment, encouraging, courage, harmonious

Engaging activity to do with the book: make an anchor chart about ways the kids think of that they can be kind- could use the activity below to make your anchor chart, challenge students to try to be kind and try to do a random act of kindness throughout the week

Follow up activity– kindness challenge- students will get one square to draw a picture of one way to be kind to others- you can put them up an anchor chart, or you could put them in a kindness jar- have them do the give one get one routine where they tell a partner about their drawing and then they switch with their partner, then the partner takes that card to share with another partner, continue doing this as long as time allows.  When finished put them in a kindness jar to remember all of the ways we can be kind.

link to purchase book- What Does it Mean to be Kind?

Book #4: Big Al- By: Andrew Clements Yoshi

What does this book teach: this is a book about friendship and finding what makes you unique and others finding out to accept and value your uniqueness

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • Who is Big Al?
  • (look at a few pages to make predictions)
  • What do you notice about Big Al the fish?

During read aloud:

  • How does Big Al feel?
  • Why don’t the other fish like him?
  • What do you think will happen at the end?
  • What will the characters learn?

After reading:

  • Did the characters change?
  • What can we learn from the characters in the book?

Engaging activity to do with the book: draw a person on the board- work down the body stopping at each quadrant to talk about how it can be different on different people (examples: stop at head and talk about hair color, eye color, glasses/no glasses, noses, mouths, teeth, etc. continue down body, then talk about how we can be different on the inside too)

Follow up activity– have students draw a picture of an imaginary friend, then have them share their friend with their partner or table,  share what they look like and what their favorite things are

Link to Amazon to buy book- Big Al By: Andrew Clements

 

Book #5: Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon- By: Patty Lovell

What does this book teach: This book teaches students all about being unique- how we can embrace our differences, and learn to  live and be comfortable in our own skin

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book will be about?
  • Who do you think the main character is?
  • What do you notice about the front cover, back cover, and the first few pages?

During read aloud:

  • What is special about Molly Lou?
  • Why does she love her grandma so much?
  • Act out with your partner how Molly Lou acts
  • Show me one feeling that she is having during the book

After reading:

  • What did the character learn?
  • What did we learn from reading this book?
  • How can we use what we learned every day?

Engaging activity to do with the book:  discuss the book, make an anchor chart about what made Molly Lou Melon brave and unique.  Have students pair up with a partner and think of 6 things that make them special, before writing/drawing, their partners can help them brainstorm their list.  

Follow up activity– Students will draw a picture of themselves and draw/write 6 things that make them special Model it for the students before

Link to Amazon to buy book- Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by: Patty Lovell

  

Teachers Pay Teachers link for documents that go along with books

Thanks so much for reading! Hope you and your kiddos enjoy these fun back to school books!

Kat Scantlin

First day jitters? (it happens to all of us!)

Hello all!

This post is going to be super transparent about me and how I feel towards back to school time!

This is my MOST favorite time of year but also the most scary.  There are a few fears/worries I have every year and I wanted to write about them because I’m sure many of you feel this exact same way and I want you to know you are not alone! I also want to give you a few tips to help you start this year off with a bang, and hopefully take some of those first day jitters away!

My worries:

  1. Am I going to remember how to be a teacher?– this one is so ridiculous but EVERY year i feel this way.  The night before school starts I always think “am I going to remember what to do?” DEBUNKED worry: if you have been teaching for any amount of time you know that teaching is just like riding a bike, once you step into that classroom with those sweet kiddos the first day of school you will hit your stride and all if it will come back to you.  
  2. Am I going to have a hard class this year?– my family laughs at me, every year I call them at some point through the first two weeks of school and I am convinced that this year is the hardest start yet.  DEBUNKED worry again: I say this EVERY year and every year they end up being my favorite class ever. They learn my teaching style and I learn about them, and I end up loving them and they end of loving me! There is some growing pains at the beginning, getting used to one another but then I am amazed at how i could possibly love them more than the year before. (also untrue haha i just love them all SO much)
  3. Will I be able to handle my most difficult child and figure out what works for them?- YES! You know that student that everyone warns you about? They have a file a mile long, you’ve heard all the horror stories about them. (this is another blog post on its own) My wish for these kids is that you and I start this year with fresh perspective, don’t open up that huge file and instead you look at this child with a new lens.  They deserve a fresh start and so do you! Start the year convincing yourself that you are what they need, they were placed in your class for a reason and you will be the answer that they need. You can do it!
  4. Will I be able to say no/ask for help?- this is my hardest area and something I work on every single year, I want to do it all. I want to help everyone, create the best lessons, create the coolest classroom, welcome parents into our school community, the list goes on and on. I am learning (SLOWLY) to ask others for help when I need it, let my amazing teammates know when I am overwhelmed, and kindly say no when I am beginning to feel that I have enough on my plate.  
  5. Will I balance work and home life?– This is another worry of mine.  I can very easily picture myself with a house full of cats, Netflix on, my laptop, and Starbucks cup, at 90 years old, in bed working on school work all alone LOL. Find something that works for you, but you can not be an efficient teacher unless you take time for yourself, and just walk away  The work will always be there. I have come to learn this over the year so I have begun to set hard times that I have to leave at the end of the day. I also get to school early to get some work done so I don’t feel as much guilt walking out each day. Say yes to your friends when they want to go do something on a school night (scary I know!).  Pour love into yourself so that you can pour love into the kids each morning.
  6. Can I be even better than I was the last year?– with test scores and growth goals, and PGP’s (professional growth plans) there is pressure every year to be the best, be better, etc.  It can be daunting, we work in a profession that you can never quite get comfortable, we must have a growth mindset. You can do it, you may not reach your growth percentage or big goals for the year, but remember the factors that play into the scores and that they are not a representation of you.  If you try your best, continue to grow in your learning, fostered a community of students who love to learn, come to school with a positive attitude and be the light for your students every day you have done what you have been hired to do.
  7. Will I be a light to the teachers in my building? If you have been a teacher for any amount of time then you know, working with women can be hard.  You are together every single day, we all have rough days, some people get along better than others, not everyone will be best friends, and  everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. How can I foster a better school community? Not only do I want to have a positive attitude each day towards my students but I also need to have that same outlook towards my coworkers.  We need to give each other grace, look for times when we need to lift each other up, or help each other when we need it. We need to complain a little less, but also listen to each other when we need to vent. We need to keep each other’s secrets. We also need to offer ideas when we see others struggling.  And last but not least we need at least one margarita and cheese dip night a month I think LOL

I think that these are all of my biggest worries every year. Starting a new school year is nerve racking, but also so very exciting. You have a blank slate, you get to start over, There is not another profession that you get to start over so often.  My hope for you is that you go into this year with peace, a clear mind, and fresh eyes. I hope you don’t take for granted what a special time this is and you realize the chance you have to make an impact on not just your students, but so many others around you.  

Here are a few small things that you can do to take some of these worries away:

 

  1. Set small goals (mine is to be more organized this year)
  2. Walk away from work
  3. Set boundaries for yourself & don’t be afraid to ask for help
  4. Try your best to have a positive attitude
  5. Make your big goals things that are attainable
  6. Give yourself grace
  7. Get to know and love your kids for this brief time that you will have them

 

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a part of this wonderful village!

Below area couple of pictures of my sweet village of teachers that I can’t wait to get back to seeing every day {okay, well maybe I can wait a bit longer haha, but what I’m saying is I miss them terribly 🙂 }

Kat Scantlin

Back to School Read Aloud’s Pt. 1

Hello again!! Hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! I am here to share with you a few of my favorite back to school read alouds, if you know me then you know my obsession with children’s books so I’ve had to narrow it down. I’ve chosen some classics and some that you might not have heard of yet!

Back to school read aloud- part 1

In this post I will tell you about my favorite books to read aloud the first few weeks of school, what they teach, what I do with them, and some questions you can ask your students.  I am linking a document that I created on my TPT account that has activity pages to accompany each book after you complete the read aloud. Hope you enjoy and love these books as much as I do!

This is part one in a series of read aloud posts- each one will contain 5 different back to school read alouds- they will go along with a TPT resource, they will all be sold in a bundle eventually as well when they are all completed!

Book #1– The Magician’s Hat- Malcolm Mitchell

What does this book teach: this book will teach students a love for books, show them that books can open doors, and spark conversations about what students aspire to be when they grow up.  

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book will be about when looking at the cover?
  • What will they find in the hat?

During read aloud:

  • Why do you think the magician believed books to be magical?
  • Do you think the boy really wants to be a dog? (ask before turning the page)
  • What are the kids pulling out of the magic hat?

After reading:

  • What did the kids learn?
  • Where can books take us?
  • What do you dream of being when you grow up?
  • What would your book look like if you reached into the magicians hat?

Engaging activity to do with the book: Bring in a magic hat filled with items that could trigger ideas for jobs, to spark discussion about what kinds of things we might find in books. Could also print a few book covers and put them in the hat to discuss what the students dream about doing.  

Follow up activity– print the page in my TPT packet and have students color their magic hat, write what they dream of being when they grow up, and the draw a picture of what their book cover would look like

Link to Amazon to buy the book- The Magician’s Hat

Book #2: Ralph Tells A Story- by: Abby Hanlon

What does this book teach: This book will teach your kids about how to start writing a story, and what to do when they get stuck on their writing

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think Ralph’s story is going to be about?
  • Do you think Ralph writes a lot of stories?
  • Where do you think the story takes place?

During read aloud:

  • How is Ralph feeling?
  • What do you think Ralph is going to do?

After reading:

  • How does Ralph feel at the end?
  • What did Ralph learn throughout this book?
  • What did we learn from this book?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this book?

Engaging activity to do with the book: Have students act out with their carpet partner how the characters feeling changes throughout the book, bring in items and share a story about each one, discussing with students how one little item can turn into a story

Follow up activity– Students will go on a scavenger hunt with the page provided in the TPT document and look for things such as Ralph’s caterpillar to write their own stories about, they will draw pictures to remember for later

Link to Amazon to buy the book- Ralph Tells a Story

Book #3: A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School)- by: Mike Boldt

What does this book teach: This book will teach your students that everyone gets nervous on their first day of school, that everyone is different, that is what makes us special, we will find other friends like us!

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book will be about by looking at the cover?
  • Does the title give us any hints?

During read aloud:

  • How is the character feeling?
  • What does she do to try to get out of going to school?
  • Why is she so nervous?
  • Who is the main character

After reading:

  • How is the main character unique?
  • What did she learn after she went to school?
  • Does she still feel the same? How did her feelings change?

Engaging activity to do with the book: classroom discussion about feelings and what we do to get out of doing things we don’t want to do sometimes

Follow up activity– Students can use the page in the TPT bundle to write about how they were feeling on the first day of school.  Give the students a list of feeling words to help them fill in the sentence frame. Have them draw a picture of what they looked like on the first day, encourage them to include showing feelings on their face, and what makes them special.  

Link to buy the book: A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School)- by: Mike Boldt

Book #4: The Koala Who Could- By: Rachel Bright

What does this book teach: This book teaches students that is about going out of your comfort zone and learning to try new things, it is a story about bravery

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book will be about?
  • What will the koala do?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this book?

During read aloud:

  • How is Kevin feeling?
  • What do his friends want him to do?
  • Why do they want him to come down?
  • Do you think Kevin will try it?

After reading:

  • What did you learn from the koala?
  • How could you be more like the koala?
  • What are somethings you could try to do that you haven’t before?

Engaging activity to do with the book: brainstorm a list of things that make use nervous that we could be brave and try

Follow up activity– students will write something new they want to try, and draw a picture, have students then share with a group or a partner what they want to try and their picture drawing.  

Link to Amazon to buy book: The Koala Who Could- Rachel Bright

Book #5: How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe- By: Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

What does this book teach: This is a very simple book about safety, it will be a great lesson on how to stay safe at school- on the playground, hallway, classroom, cafeteria etc.  

Questions to ask:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book is going to be about?
  • What is the dinosaur doing on the cover that is not safe?

During read aloud:

  • What is the dinosaur doing that is safe?
  • What kind of dinosaurs have we seen so far in this book?

After reading:

  • Why did the author write this book?
  • How can we stay safe?
  • What things did the dinosaur do that were safe? Unsafe?
  • How can we use what we have learned from the book while we are at school?

Engaging activity to do with the book:  this would be a great place to show a powerpoint made by your teammates of what being safe/unsafe looks like around the school.  There are lots of youtube videos as well about school safety that could be used before reading the book to spark background knowledge about what safety looks like?

Follow up activity– this will be a group activity- you could either let students choose or assign them a place to think of a safety rule.  They will then write their rule for safety and draw a picture of what it looks like to do that in the school building (for example: a couple of groups could show safety in the classroom,  cafeteria, classroom, hallway, specials, etc)

Link to Amazon to buy: How do Dinosaurs Stay SAFE? By: Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

LINK FOR DOCUMENT TO MY TPT DOCUMENTS TO GO ALONG WITH EACH OF THESE BOOKS BELOW: 

Back to School Read Aloud Documents pt. 1

thanks for reading! stay tuned for pt. 2

Kat Scantlin

There’s a Job For Everyone!

I’m back!!!

After a much needed vacation to my favorite spot in Florida, I am ready to jump back on the blogging train! Today I am going to talk to you all about my classroom jobs and tell you why it is my absolute favorite part of my classroom every year!

Jobs are something that everyone needs to have in their classroom in my opinion. It is much easier to do a lot of the things yourself because training the kids to do certain jobs certainly does take time. But boy will you be thankful once they get the hang of it, and your classroom will be running like a well oiled machine 🙂

Where to start? I received the conscious discipline job chart from a give away when my school did a book study a few years ago.  (see picture below)  This resource is great because it has a lot of different jobs that you might not think of, you could also look on TPT as tons of teachers have created great classroom jobs charts as well.  I would recommend getting a resource pre-made as a jumping off point and go from there.  Check the bottom of this post for some great ones that I have found on TPT.

Why did I say as a place to start? Over the years my jobs have changed dramatically.  At the end of every year I ask the students these questions. “What jobs did we not use very often?” and “What is a job we need but don’t have?” You would not believe it, but the students think of things that I would have never thought of.  This is why my classroom jobs continue to grow and get better every single year.

Who gets a job? EVERYONE! I know, I know this sounds like a lot to remember, 25 jobs is a lot! But I don’t have to remember them, they do! When I introduce the jobs I also teach the importance of remembering their job because if they aren’t there to do their job it will hurt our classroom family.  I also explain it like this “What if I forgot to do my job and stayed in bed everyday?” This is an easy example for them because they always tell me  that of course I wouldn’t do forget to come to school,  and that I would get fired if I didn’t come to work.  Unfortunately that is the consequence if they forget their job as well.  I remove/fire them and let them earn it back.  I always give them a few days after they pick a job to remember it, and their friends usually remind them as well, so I don’t have to do it often. I think it is very important for students to learn the importance and responsibility of doing a job, while also realizing how important it is for everyone to help each other.

How often do I change jobs? Every two weeks.  I have found that every two weeks is long enough for them to get a good chance at their job, and remember their job.  It is also not too long where they get tired of doing something.  I also want them to get a chance at trying out any job that they want to.  As the year goes on changing jobs gets to be very quick, and usually they already have which one they have been wanting in mind.

How do they pick? I have the students names on Velcro and keep them in a Ziploc baggie.  I draw them out of the bag in random order and they pick.  I do sometimes rig for things such as: someone has been picked last the time before, or someone has been working really hard at something, also some of the jobs require students to know everyone’s classroom number or name so at the beginning of the year there are typically only a few students that can do that quickly.  Over the course of the year everyone learns how to do every job and kids usually find a few that they are really good at and pick those when they get the chance.

What have I learned by doing classroom jobs with fidelity? Everyone has a talent! I am always amazed at how well the students could run my classroom if I was not there.  They are better at remembering their classroom numbers than I am,  they are faster at filing papers than me,  and they never let me forget to take attendance to the office everyday. A student who couldn’t read last year figured out his favorite job was to collect the box tops and loved to count them into groups for me.  They love to help one another by tying shoes, getting band-aids, or taking a friend to the nurse.  Kids LOVE to help, so why don’t we let them?!?!  It takes something off of your plate and gives the students ownership of the class.

I urge you to give it a try, stick with it even when it gets hard at the beginning, remind the students the importance of helping one another out and being an integral part of their classroom community.  Start small, do what fits you, create jobs that your classroom needs, ask your kids, change jobs in a time frame that fits your style.  If you already do classroom jobs and don’t love them, think about how you can change them to make it better, how can you get students excited to help in their classroom.  I hope you find something in this post that you can use as you begin thinking about the upcoming school year!

List of my classroom jobs– line leader, board cleaner, shoe tier, duster, table cleaner, recess toy helper, nurse, library helper, bucket cleaner, germ-x squirter, lunch cards, absent job helper, caboose, door holder, technology monitor (turns off board/puts up ipads), door opener, indoor recess game helper, materials manager, secretary (puts notes in mailboxes), messenger, calendar helper, box tops.

conscious discipline job chart

the link below is for a great TPT resource-

Class Jobs for the Leadership Classroom

My classroom jobs and the velcro name labels are in the picture below 🙂

Kat Scantlin

Materials Management!

Hello again everyone!

This blog this is already proving hard to do during the summer when I don’t have much going on, but I am determined to keep it going and think of fun and interesting things to talk about.  If you have any questions on how i do certain things I would love to hear from you, feel free to shoot me a message! As promised I said I would talk about my materials management and what I do with materials while using flexible seating with my firsties. So here goes 🙂

Main school supplies such as crayons or markers: community table buckets!  For materials everyone uses, I use community table buckets and have enough to put on all my desks with any table configuration. I usually keep glues sticks, crayons,  and markers. The Tupperware containers in the picture below are seriously the best for saving crayons, no more broken crayon boxes, and they have lasted me YEARS. I also only replace crayons about once or twice a year.  The students learn to share them.  I have about 20 Tupperware of crayons floating around the room for kids to use anywhere they sit. They also know they can take them to any seat as long as they share with the people around them. With alternative seating I do not label table buckets with numbers because at any given time I might have different configurations, and any number of “tables.” The kids know they too can carry these around the room to a spot as long as they make sure they aren’t taking them away from someone sitting at that spot.  One of my classroom jobs (will be another post soon and one of the things I am very passionate about) is a table bucket cleaner. This person organizes the table buckets and makes sure all the crayon boxes have their lids at the end of the day.

Image result for small rectangular plastic food containersImage result for classroom table buckets

Individual student supplies: canvas tote bags! My wonderful mom {shout out Momma Kim- or classroom granny as my kids call her} made me these great black tote bags. See the picture below.  They have the students numbers on them. They come in and grab these and take them to their spots each day. This is where their folders stay with their work.  They also keep a zipper pouch with their scissors with their name on them, an eraser, and pencils. This was my first year trying this and I loved the to tote bags for papers and folders but this year will only keep their scissors in them because over the course of the year I found something I liked better for pencils and erasers.  You can also buy canvas totes on amazon, and if you prefer black you could die them.  Hello summer DIY! 🙂 If you search on Pinterest there are tons of ideas for organizing students supplies that might work better for you, it is totally a personal preference. We store our tote bags in crates, 5 tote bag per crate. This is also another job for someone to make sure the bags are in number order at the end of the day (great counting activity hah)

We switch classes a TON for flexible grouping and I constantly need supplies to be readily available for anyone who comes into my class. This is why I came to the conclusion of community classroom pencils/erasers/& glue.  These 3 supplies are things we use literally all the time in first grade, so i need them available and available fast.  This saves time for students having to carry a bunch of materials too and from classrooms. For glue sticks I keep large Tupperwares around the room filled with glue sticks. Kids just come and grab them as needed, sometimes my materials manager will pass them out, depending on the activity. I also keep pencil cups around the room everywhere with sharpened pencils. At the end of each day someone collects them. I usually sharpen so many that I won’t need to sharpen again for a week.  I also have an eraser drawers. I used to give each student one pink eraser at a time, but i constantly heard “I can’t find mine,” or “someone drew on my eraser.” Now that no one has their own eraser it has cut down on this. Of course I still have the kids draw on erasers, which is a battle that i choose not to fight haha.  But it did cut down on what to do when they can’t find them, or where to store them when they are found on the ground. At the end of the school year i still had pencils from Halloween, and Chrstimas! No more pencil hoarders 🙂

Inside student desk: clipboard & white board. All desks have one inside. They can take one out and use it to work around the room, or sometimes I will have everyone grab a clipboard and come to the carpet.  Everyone in my homeroom class has a dry erase marker in their tote bag, but I also have a community bucket of them as well for students that come into my classroom.

This organization system might not sound organized at all to you, and you know what that is totally OK! Do what works for you. Use some of my ideas, or none of them at all. Over the 6 years of teaching I don’t think i have every completely done the same thing twice when it comes to materials.  The kids need to have ownership of their materials and know how to take care of their classroom and this past year this is what worked for them. One consistent fact over the years is that the kids take care of our materials, treat them with respect, and know where they go, which is what matters to me the most.   When we start back to school it will be with a whole new set of kids and they will shape it to be their own and help me make it fit them.  There is no right or wrong system.Try it out, ask the kids what they think, and change what needs to be fixed.  GOOD LUCK organizing all those brand new materials in the fall!

Kat Scantlin

 

If you have any questions about this topic, leave a comment below!

Parent Communication!

Happy Wednesday friends!

I have been attending a reading conference all week and have gotten so many new ideas that I can’t wait to use next year in the classroom. I have also learned that I probably need to buy stock in the post- it brand company. haha

This post is going to be all about communicating with parents and opening up a positive line of communication with your parents. I would love feedback on this post to hear how you do this.  I know teaching in a school with high poverty most of my parents are working so hard to make ends meet which makes them unavailable a lot.  Many outsiders might assume that they don’t want to help/ care about what is happening in the classroom and that couldn’t be further from the truth from my experience.  They want to help and we have to tell them how they can do that.

All parents care about their kids and our job as teachers is to reach out to them and welcome them into our school community, because the students success very much needs to be a team effort y’all. No matter what training we have and how good we are at our job, our kiddos LOVE their parents and love us. We need to work together to give them the best experience possible.

How do I do this? Honestly I always said for years and years I would never do this.  But a new coworker who has turned into a good friend of mine (shout out to Erinn Woolard :)) told me about her success with starting a class Facebook page. I was skeptical, I thought ALL parents were going to be looking at my personal page, or asking to be my friend.  I do like to keep some desperation between my personal life and school life, because i live there enough as it is haha but I went ahead and gave the class Facebook page a try, despite my reservations.

Y’all (excuse my southern language) this method of parent communication was seriously a game changer.  I have had more parent involvement over the last two years than ever before! I try to post pictures a few times a week and post all news as soon as I know about it.  I have had more parents volunteer for field trips,  send supplies for parties,  ask me to help in the classroom, and help out at school events than ever before.  I also have parents call me when there is an emergency, or a new baby is born into their family,  ask for help or if their child is struggling, etc.

Why do I think this works? Well, look at all of us, we communicate with strangers over social media all the time and feel so comfortable doing so.  My parents that speak another language don’t have to worry about their grammar, and use translate to help them ask me questions.  It is immediate and they can message me from work or any time during the day that works for them, not just during school hours.  I can also share news with divorced parents easily this way without sending home two copies of everything. Convenience is key and we are living in a digital age.

Does everyone join? absolutely not. This year I had about 20/25 parents in my Facebook group.  Some parents simple don’t like or don’t care to join Facebook, and that is absolutely their preference.  I still send home all important notes via paper, and translate them as much as possible.  But the majority of my parents love it and if they don’t have it they have bigger kids that do and can update them on what is happening in our classroom.

Privacy concerns? It is a closed Facebook group that I have to approve anyone who joins.  I verify everyone who joins and make sure they are on their enrollment card. If there is a tricky custody issue i always check with the custodial parent before accepting another family member. I post pictures only with the parents consent. All posts parents make must be approved by me as well.  I am the only admin on the group.  At the end of every year I give parents a few weeks and a few warnings to save any pictures they want and I remove all pictures and all members to get it ready for the next year.  If a student moves during the year I also remove that parent from the group.

Parent communication should always be a goal of ours to improve. How are you going to improve this line of communication next year? What are some other great ways YOU communicate with parents? I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this post!

Kat Scantlin

Classroom Rules!

Hello again!!

This post is going to be a short and sweet one- will type one up about back to school procedures and routines when it gets closer. I will also discuss some fun community building activities that I do every year and love. SO…. stay tuned for that.  This post is more about setting the rules of your classroom.

Let me start by saying that I have done rules SO many different ways in my 6 years of teaching.  My first year I did posters for each of the areas of the building, classroom, cafeteria, outdoor playground, etc. etc.  We made collaborative posters and all of the students wrote how they were supposed to act at each of those.  I liked this approach.

Another way I have done rules is having the students brainstorm a rule and write on a sticky note, we look at them to see if they overlap and if we see a trend we will add it to our classroom rule poster.  Then all of the students take “ownership” of the rules and sign them.  Also, liked this approach.

However my MOST favorite way to do classroom rules is to have TWO, I repeat TWO rules.  They stay the same every year and encompass every misbehavior you might see in your classroom. Literally every behavior falls under these two rules.  **DRUM ROLL PLEASE** Rule #1- Do your job, Rule #2  Be Nice (you could use kind her if you want)

Why do I only use two rules? It makes my job easier. Gone are the days when a student misbehaves asking them to go look at the poster to find which rule they broke, now there are only two of them so they don’t have to look far. Also, they are first graders and many can’t read at the beginning of the year but they can remember those 5 words.  Many times all i have to ask them is which rule they are breaking and they can easily identify which one it falls under.  Not only does it make my job easier but it is simple for them as well. It is short and sweet and easy for them to understand.

At the beginning of the year of course I talk to them about what their job is.  In the classroom, their job is to work, be nice to one another, try their best etc.  In the cafeteria their job is to be eating lunch,  at recess their job is to have fun, at car rider line their job is to listen for their name, and so on and so on.  What is their job at each place or what are they supposed to be doing?  Rule number 2 is something they are already familiar with and i also talk to them about being nice/kind is something they will do for the rest of their life.  We talk about what would happen if I was mean all the time, they usually promptly tell me i would get fired because teachers HAVE to be nice. LOL.  There are also great books that go along with rule #2 which i share about in my back to school read aloud post. {The Recess Queen is one of them-I’m sure many of you are familiar with Mean Jean 🙂 } These rules are simple, and I am a huge FAN of simple.

As always do what works for you and your students.  But remember their little brains are already taking in SO much information throughout the day and following a long list of rules might be difficult for them to remember.

Hope this helps and sets the tone for your upcoming school year!

Kat Scantlin

 

 

Navigating the 1st year! (<–new/newish teachers this is for you)

This is something that I have literally been wanting to type/share about for years!  Many of you have had a wonderful intern experience, have worked as an instructional assistant, or substituted, but now you are about to enter into the world of having your own classroom.  Nothing I MEAN nothing can prepare you for this.  Even the best mentors in the world will not be able to teach you/think of everything you need to know.  So let’s break it down some things about the first year that might help, so here are some tips and tidbits for navigating that first year, your second year of teaching or even a refresher for all of you veteran teachers out there!

Classroom setup– I can remember the feeling like it was yesterday walking into my very empty (except for a few discarded materials that the previous teacher had left behind) brand new classroom! It is the most exciting blank canvas you will ever have, it will never be this empty again.  1. Do not take anything and everything that people want to “gift” you. more than likely those teachers are cleaning/purging their own classrooms.  Only accept the things that you think you will actually use.  It is very easy to become a hoarder in the teaching world so be selective with classroom decor free gifts.  Many will also be giving away free manuals, student resource books- I will tell you from experience that many of those will be in your cabinets for years and you too will be “donating” them to another new teacher in the future- go ahead and just say NO THANKS ahead of time! Also, before you get into your classroom start looking at pinterest for decor ideas, storage ideas, and more. I tell you this but when you go to pinterest remember that many of those images are from seasoned teachers. Do not max out a credit card to decorate your classroom, the kids will love any classroom that is filled with love no matter what is on the walls. You have plenty of time to get that decor just right!

Classroom library– this is where you start taking any and all donations. You can always weed out later if you don’t end up needing them or they aren’t a good fit for your kids  Books are something you can never have too much of. When you get your grade level assignment look at the levels you will be teaching and keep your eyes peeled at thrift stores! Sign up for scholastic ASAP! Find someone in your school that is good at scholastic and bonus points, you will be able to get tons of free books for your classroom this way.  Any time your principal says there is extra money to be spent, books is always a great way to spend it! What if you still feel you don’t have enough books? NO WORRIES! There are tons of online resources for students such as epic, reading a-z, and more that will have books in their hands in no time!

Curriculum– what can you do before the year? start looking at the curriculum/standards, ask your team if they have a pacing guide,  if not, start creating your own. Have a plan on how to tackle the curriculum. Does your school use a certain phonics program, reading program, etc? Familiarize yourself with those, your coworkers and admin will be very impressed if you read up over the summer on these!

Paperwork– This was probably my biggest shock, the paperwork that comes with teaching! Data collection, RTI paperwork, behavior plans,  IRI, TESS [teacher reflection/evaluation program], TAF money, flex day forms, field trip permission forms,  photo release, student interest surveys, the list literally goes on and on and on! You should be paired with a mentor for your first year, seek them out and ask specifically about paper work and some of these things.  Usually your district will have a school forms page on their website where many of these things are located.  Paperwork is a necessary  evil.

Students– get to know them,  learn everything you can about them, this is the secret to success.  Find out all of their wants and needs, and figure out how to reach them.  This should be your main goal with your students.  Don’t only look at the numbers/scores of their tests.  Don’t only look at their files or comments from years past. Get to know them yourself, talk to them, have an open line of communication with them, this will truly be your ticket to an amazing school year.

Parent communication/conferences– get to know them, give them a smile,  tell them that you are a team, thank them for all that they do for their kids. Many parents won’t be doing the whole parenting thing how you think it should be done, or might not be giving them all that they need but do know that they are trying.  Offer them resources if they need anything.  Just like your students, be there for them.  Offer them grace and they will offer you grace in return.  Figure out a way for them to communicate with them, a class Facebook page {my personal favorite}, Instagram, Class dojo, are a few that I have seen used successfully. I do recommend doing some sort of online communication as well as sending home all forms in folders most parents have social media at their fingertips and might not always look at the papers in their child’s folders immediately.  Remember this is their child,  their baby, and they are trusting you with them every day.  <3

Behavior– you are going to have a wide range of behaviors. You will have children who are quiet and always well behaved, and others who might drive you to the point of insanity,  how do you reach them all? This will be directly connected to the point above. GET TO KNOW THEM.  If you can figure out the root of a behavior you will likely be able to correct it.  If a student is making you go home worn and broken down, which will happen, ASK for help.  Pride plays a huge factor in all of us, but asking for help does not show weakness, it shows strength,  a 6 year old should not be controlling your life.  Likely someone in your building will be able to help you or look at it from a different perspective, to offer advice.  Again, it takes a village and we are all in it together,  remember a happy teacher is an effective teacher. On the flip side of a tricky behavior, don’t forget your quiet students! Try to pay attention to all behaviors your extra quiet ones might be keeping their emotions on the inside rather than on the outside like some of your more severe behaviors.  Getting all kids to the point of comfort where they can open up to you is a goal every teacher should have.

SURVIVAL– in the end your students will be fine, they will not remember if you forgot to teach a certain standard {because i’m sure i missed many that first year}, they will not remember the color scheme of your classroom,  or what phonics program you used to teach them to read.  They WILL however, remember how much you loved them, their best friends in their class,  all of the fun memories you will make together,  your smile everyday, all the laughter you will have with one another throughout the year. They will all go on to the next grade and continue on in school. Give it your best effort and know that you did a great job and made a difference in their lives! There is a whole community of teachers out there to support you and cheer you on and help you every step of the way. This person may not be next door, or even in your building, but there is a HUGE community of teachers that you can connect with all over the world.

GOOD LUCK with your first year,  your second year and even your tenth. 🙂 You all will do great and your students will love you!

 

Kat Scantlin

Tinkering- is it just another word for play?

Hello again! I am trying to get in the habit of posting multiple times here at the beginning, maybe daily, so in August hopefully I can actually stick with the whole blogging thing 🙂 So I am sorry ahead of time for the overload of posts but I truly hope you can find something meaningful to implement into your classroom.

Some questions I hope to answer today- what is tinkering? What is the buzz about it? When can I fit it in my already busy day?

Tinkering is definitely a buzz word in the educational setting these days.  What is it you ask? According to dictionary.com the official answer when using tinkering as a verb is “to busy oneself with a thing without a useful result” I think that this is a great representation of what tinkering is but often in the classroom setting, students can actually discover something that indeed is useful to them.  So my own definition is “to busy oneself with a task to discover something unknown” Tinkering is largely another term for letting students PLAY and EXPLORE using a variety of objects available to them.

Let me tell you, it is SO fun! If you don’t already have tinkering tools, PLEASE start investing in some. The whole idea of it is centered around exploration,  this concept is nothing new to the classroom but with strict schedules and standards many have moved away from the concept of free exploration.  I can tell you from first hand experience that you can learn so much about your kids during this time.  You will see amazing team building,  creative thinking,  ability to follow directions,  problem solving, and so many more.  Guys, these are life skills,  you can let your students have fun, all while they are using life skills to solve problems.

When do I implement tinkering? Morning work tubs, when some of my kids don’t eat breakfast at school, this is a great time to let them tinker. Indoor recess is another awesome time,  the kids don’t know the difference between these tools and regular  recess board games, they just know they are having fun! Math stations, if you use math stations put out a few tinkering toys and allow them to use task card {check my TPT store for some building task cards-*kattasticteaching*} as a station.  They will love you for it and stay so engaged during your station time.

Quick story about tinkering- this school year I had a student who struggles in ALL areas, has a very difficult time making sense of numbers, and an even harder time reading, by 1st grade we will know the content continues to get harder.  I knew this students was what we would call “low” right off the bat from his kinder file as well as from the beginning of year assessments.  The first week of school I put out my tinkering tools.  What did I learn? This student can look at any picture and build the image without the use of the step by step directions.  Immediately the kids in the class thought he was “so cool” and were asking him how he did that.  The confidence in him grew and grew.  Throughout the year he continued to impress his friends whenever we tinkered, he would teach others how to build objects.  He also started to show more confidence in the core areas as well, we would work in order to have building time.  This was a huge motivator for him because he was good at it.  He started using the ships he built during during as a writing point and his writing improved.  When he started the year he only wrote letters smushed together and by the end of the year was writing 3 page books!

Where do you start?

Tinkering would be a great donors choose project, keep your eyes peeled at yard sales and thrift stores, look through your own kids discarded games.  Try implementing it during a time you are comfortable with. Just give it a try.  I really think you will love it!

below check out the links to amazon for some of the tinkering tools I have in my classroom.  These are by far not all of the things you can use, the opportunities are endless!   Also, check out the adorable pictures of my students working together and having fun! If you can

Thanks for tuning in again!

Kat Scantlin

{Kat-Tastic Teaching}

brain flakes!

marble run

straw builders