Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to School Bash Linky & Giveaway: Open House Ideas

It's the last week of our Back to School Bash Linky Series!  I've so enjoyed getting to know some teacher blogger friends through this process!

This week is all about Open House/Parent Night Ideas!  This year my motto for Open House was Keep It Simple!  Now that I am a parent, I try to think about what I would want to know from my son's teacher, what information I would definitely need to bring home for reference, and what is really not necessary!  I used to make these 10-15 page packets...those were such a stress to type, edit, put together, etc... and I'm guessing most of them were trashed soon after Open House Night!  This year, I bought an editable template for the brightly colored flip books below from Chalk and Apples. These were pretty easy to put together and gave my parents a very easy reference to take home with them.

As a school, we also all put out information provided from the county about math and our assessment schedule for the year.  As a second grade team, we put out our order forms for class shirts and "just right" reading bags, so that we can collect money and orders in one day.

I do present a Power Point during Open House, but it is more of a reference for parents, as after 10 years of Open House presentations, I have a pretty good handle on the typical speech/information.  I like for my presentation to be to the point, but still casual and fun.  I know that I hate sitting in a meeting and having a Power Point read to me...I like to be spoken to, so that's how I try to talk to my parents.

I offer many classroom volunteer opportunities during Open House and I like to simply have everything out for parents to hit at one time!

Here's a look at the WHOOOOOO WANTS TO HELP? form that I use! 

Finally, I do have finalized, typed copies of my students Important Poems from the first week of school, with the kids' first day of school pictures published and in the hall for parents to see.  This is always a favorite keep sake at the end of the year.  

We hope you will link-up with your Open House Ideas, too!  Have an awesome Back to School season!

Hootfully Yours,


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to School Bask Week 3: First Week of School Ideas and Plans

Whew!  Last week of school was my first week with kids...by Friday I was crazy tired.  I mean there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING quite like beginning of the year TEACHER TIRED.  I went to bed at 8:45 Friday night.  However, it was a great 1st week, and I have a challenging, but fun group of kids!

Here are a few of the activities and highlights from our first week of school!

So, I know the book First Day Jitters is a beginning of the year favorite, but I have found that many of my students have heard it several times by the time they get to me!  Some of my favorites are above!  After reading, Do Unto Otters, we work as a class to make a list of what RESPECT "looks like", "sounds like", "feels like" and "is not" in our classroom (sorry I didn't get a picture of that)!  We always read Sideways Stories from Wayside School as our first chapter book read aloud.  It is silly and engaging, and I have found it's just a great first read for the year!  Finally, I LOVE reading This School Year will be The BEST!.  My students then create their own imaginative pictures and sentences of what their BEST YEAR would include...these are often a HOOT!

A few years ago, I saw this idea of Class Consensograms from the Ginger Snaps blog.  It is such a cute way to get the kids up and moving, voting on their preferences with a sticker, and learning about each other.  I save these charts all year and then pull them out to create different types of graphs in math throughout the year.  You can use any survey questions you wish, but it is a great way to start learning about your students' interests, learning styles, and more!

We start Reading Workshop on Day 2 of school!  You can NEVER start building independent reading stamina too fast!  I use the plans from my Reading Workshop Launch Unit!  I ask students to bring their favorite book to school on the 3rd day of school.  Then we discuss our books and why they are our favorite and make a list of things we "notice" and have in common about our favorite books!  

Our first writing project is based around The Important Book.  We read the book and then we make a list of the Top 10 Reasons We're Important.  Day 2, I have the students fill in the scaffolded Important Poem Rough Draft Template about themselves.  I then type of up their final poems to display in the hallway for Open House!  This is always a favorite keepsake of my students' parents!

Finally, one of my favorite beginning of the year activities is to have my students create a transformation of a second grade 2.  Look how creative this "monster Pharaoh" is!

This is just a sampling of some of the parts of our first week together!  It was busy, challenging, but oh--so--fun!

This week we have a NEW giveaway for a TPT gift card...a BIG gift card!  Enter our giveaway below for your chance to win!

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I hope that some of you will link up your amazing ideas for the First Week of School!

Hootfully yours,


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to School Bash Week 2: Meet the Teacher Ideas

I'm so excited to be co-hosting Week 2 of our Back to School Bash Linky Series and Giveaway!  This week is all about Meet the Teacher Ideas.

For me, the lead-up to this year's Meet the Teacher afternoon (which was last week) was more stressful than normal!  Of course this year I decided to freshen up my classroom and redo a lot of my decor and organization...which was my own doing!  However, on top of that, we had all-day, off-campus professional development the DAY BEFORE Meet the Teacher, and I couldn't get my little guy from the babysitter and back to school before the building closed for the evening...

...SO, I figured that if I just got to school earlier enough Thursday morning, with the help of my amazing mom, I could easily be done with my to-do list before Meet & Greet (that's what we call Meet the Teacher) started at 2:30.  So I open my classroom door at 7:30 am, to find an entire bulletin board board, which had been carefully secured to the wall with extra tape 2 days before laying in a heap on the ground.  A child had been added to my class list at the last moment...after I had printed everything with adorable fonts at home.  No problem, I'll just create another name tag, etc. on my personal lap top, e-mail it to my school laptop (which has NO cute fonts), and print it from there.  Oh we have NO internet connection, the entire school server is down, and there is NOT ONE working printer in our entire school building!  Insert near panic attack!  Somehow, almost everything got done, and Meet & Greet came and went without anyone knowing of all the little snafus along the way.

Here's a peek at my Meet & Greet:

Student Treats & What's on Their Desks:
So who doesn't love balloons?!?  Each of my new owlets gets to take home an "owl" balloon from Meet & Greet!  I order and pay for my balloons (in the colors of my classroom) a few days before Meet & Greet and pick them up a few hours before the big event.  I then tape simple eyes and a beak to each balloon and VOILA! you've got a floating owl!  Seeing a whole parliament of owl balloons floating across my room definitely fills my heart with joy!  On each students desk, I place his/her name tag, basic student info cards for parents to complete, a gift Frisbee for students, which has an owl decal on the front and says "Thanks for flying in!" on the back.  They also get a labeled lunch bag with a homework tag.  This is their "HOOT about Me" bag, which is to be decorated and filled with pictures or small items which tell about the child.  I ask these bags to come in on the first day of school, so that student have an opportunity to share about themselves!

On the Board:
On the board, I had to hand write a note with directions for the parents and students...it wasn't my first choice, but as I usually type up a message on my class blog, and we had no internet connection, I had to flex at the last moment.  I also projected a copy, with visuals, of how I wanted students to unpack their school supplies--I didn't create this list, a teammate did--but I find it to be simple enough for my students to follow pretty independently, while their parents are filling out information.  I also put my class Wish List on the board, and ask for parents to take an owl or two to donate to our class!

Here's a picture of pre-labeled supply bins for our community school supplies.  

Here is a picture of how my table groups look with parent paperwork and student gifts and homework on them!  I like to go with the whole "less is more" mentality!

All of my new little owlets got their name on an owl on our bulletin board tree before Meet & Greet (above) and on the body of our owl on the door (below)!  I also pulled up my blog for parents to follow while they were in class--my desktops had sporadic internet connection!  I included a QR code with our blog link, that parents could simply scan with their smart phones, too!

Finally, I signed up this year for the FREE APP Remind!  It's a great system for sending text alerts to parents without them getting your personal cell number!  I've never tried this system before...but I'm excited to give it a whirl this year!  So, I downloaded the sign-up flier, copied it, and had it ready for my parents to take home!

Overall, it was a GREAT Meet & Greet!  My room looked the best it ever has before, and I felt so pleased with how smoothly everything went!  I look forward to reading everybody's awesome Meet the Teacher Ideas---so link-up with us this week!

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Also, don't forget that our giveaway ends at the end of this week!  You won't want to miss this TPT bundle of awesome resources!  

Hootfully yours,