September 22, 2014

Preparing for Parent/Teacher Conferences

Today I am going to be discussing Parent/Teacher Conferences! These conferences are wonderful opportunities to meet with parents for the first time and discuss how the first couple months have been going for their child. Typically, after routines and procedures have been established, teachers hit the ground running with instruction and conferences are great times to share with parents the work students are doing and the progress they're showing! 

This means that teachers need to communicate a lot of information to parents and in a short amount of time. Here I have a resource that has been very helpful to me in the past and it keeps me focused the whole time! It's so easy to get sidetracked so here are a few things I've done that you may find helpful!


Break down the information by quarter.
Obviously you want to focus on the immediate goals for each child so it's important to dedicate some time to look up student scores and make them easy to compare to quarterly benchmarks.
This resource includes conference forms for all 4 quarters. It includes areas to document important information about reading, writing, and math so you can focus your conversation with your parents. It also provides the teacher to discuss where the student is at in terms of their work habits and attitude. Having the benchmarks available helps show if students are below, meets, or exceeds the given benchmark for that quarter.
Include student work samples
Student work samples are great tools to use during conferences to show where students should be performing or the goals they should be working towards. I keep previous students' work to help compare. I've gotten a lot of compliments from parents on how helpful it is for them to see what I'm referring to in regards to what I expect each quarter {especially writing!}.

Planning and organization!
I always put out the conference time sign up sheet at my Back to School Night and Open House that way I can get the majority of parents locked in to a time early and it's one less thing to do. However, everyone is different! Plan your conferences to be about 15-20mins each, especially if you're meeting with all your parents the first quarter. Give yourself a few minutes between each conference to prepare and have materials ready. 

Tip: have resource information readily available too like:
-specialists emails or phone numbers
-a laptop or iPad with your schools website so you can show 
them how to navigate it to find other resources

Keep a record...
It's important that teachers keep records of their conferences with each child's parents/guardians. It's important because it can be used as documentation in other meetings, especially if it's related to academic or disciplinary issues. 
This form is good if you want to see your whole class at a glance as you have conferences throughout the year. Or...
You can use this form, which looks at individual students and how often you've met or talked with their parents. I like this form personally because I can keep it in their file in my classroom. It's also helpful if you have students with IEPs or Child Study (in LCPS that the initial meeting that establishes interventions before officially giving a child an IEP).

Don't Forget!
I've included Don't Forget! slips with my resource pack because it's another small thing that parents really appreciate {especially if they signed up for a conference back in Sept}. Just fill out the student's name and the time/date of the conference and send home a week or so before your conferences begin! 

So, that's how I do conferences in a nutshell! Be sure to grab my resource packet so you're all set and ready to go for your conferences!!

September 21, 2014

Sunday Scoop!

Happy Sunday everyone! Today is my first linky with Teaching Trio to share my 3-2-1 of things I have to do, hope to do, and happy to do! Be sure to link up too!!


Have to Do:
1. My major must have is getting my teaching license from VA transferred to CA! I know I have time and I knew that I wouldn't be teaching this year when we decided to move...but the type-A person in me wants to get all this paperwork and processing done as quickly as possible! 
2. Fall conferences are coming up and I can't wait to share the resource I've been working on! It's been a slow process but these forms have made conferences so productive and easy to share with parents for me in the past! So, be on the lookout this week for it!!
3. And of course, my final must do is laundry, cleaning, etc. of our new place. Thanks to my mom I got the clean-freak gene and I enjoy this stuff. Plus it'll keep me busy during the day while the hubs is at work ;)

Hope to Do:
1. Work outs. It's not my favorite thing to do and I basically HATE doing it. However, it's a necessary evil for me as I wasn't one of the few that were born 'naturally skinny' so I have to work at it. My Fitbit has been an amazing motivator and I still enjoy using it. So, another thing this week that I hope to do is begin getting back on track with my workouts!
2. Moving always requires change and in this case I not only left my family back in VA but we both left an awesome group of friends. It was sad to let them go but I do look forward to meeting new people out here. I was thinking of joining a book club or even taking a French class at the local community college for fun. :)

Happy to Do:
1. My father-in-law helped us move by flying into DC from TX and offered to drive our U-Haul across the country. Isn't he amazing?! Well, while he was staying here for a couple days he offered us a housewarming present that was a brand new 50' TV! It's huge! But, recently we've gotten into The Blacklist with James Spader and we're hooked! We're only on the first season but we look forward to seeing where the story goes!

Well, those are my 3-2-1s so be sure to link up and share your Sunday Scoop!

September 18, 2014

California Bound and Arrived!

Hello from California! We {finally} made it to Ventura, CA where the hubs, Murphy, and I will call home for at least the next few years. We spent four days on the road; traveling from VA across the country to CA. We are so blessed to have had Philip's dad fly out (from TX) and be willing to help us drive the U-Haul (with a trailer for my car!) while we drove our Jeep. Otherwise our journey would have been slightly more difficult than it actually was. 

Here's a little slideshow from our drive...

So, we set off early Saturday morning and our first stop was Nashville, TN where we made a pit-stop for some good BBQ and sweet tea! Then, it was onto Memphis where we stayed the night. We averaged about 10-12 hours driving each day (I say we but since I don't know manual I didn't have to do any driving, haha!). Thanks to Yelp we were able to find some great local eats along the way and hotels where we knew our stuff would be safe for the night.

Needless to say our little guy, Murphy did very well living out of hotels the last four days :) I was actually very proud of how well he handled the entire trip. For an 11 week old puppy who has only been with us for the last couple weeks he was very comfortable and relaxed the entire time! #thankgoodness
Then it was...
...
Family photo time!
Texas!
Getting closer...
Lots of desert and rock...
Finally!!

And this is the view from the front of our building...I mean it's perfect and it makes me very excited about our new chapter. Of course it was hard to leave our friends and my family but now that we're in our new place and getting settled it's feeling more and more like home here. I mean, I've been here for two days and sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind me this is real ;)
{the little dots in the water are surfers...not sharks, haha}

If you're interested in following my personal photos be sure to follow me on Instagram!
{here}

I'm not gonna lie...there's some housework that needs to be done but I'll be getting to work on some new products so make sure to follow me on Bloglovin' and Facebook to stay up to date with all my adventures! 

Oh...and I guess I can officially update my blog to show that I am officially a...

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

September 8, 2014

Pledge of Allegiance {FREEBIE}

Download this {FREEBIE}

Happy Monday everyone! Tonight I am stopping by and sharing something fun that I love to do at the beginning of each year and kicks off our study of citizenship in Social Studies. Each and every day students acknowledge our country with the Pledge of Allegiance. I, too, as a kid memorized these lines but it's interesting how these days students aren't taught the vocabulary and understand what it means to say these words each morning.

So, at the beginning of the year we dissect the Pledge of Allegiance and discuss what each line means and how it represents our patriotism as Americans. This mini lesson is great for students who may be knew to America or has family new to America as well :)

Here's how this workbook works...
Each student gets their own copy of the workbook and this can be used in different ways. The first few pages allow students to practice copying the words one line at a time. This helps them build their memory but also is extra writing practice (especially for those tougher words!). There's a blank section where students can either a.) color their own pictures or b.) color and cut out the images also included in this download. It's great matching practice too!

Then, as a part of the workbook I've included a little section that goes a little more in depth about what each line of the Pledge means. 

Each year this little workbook was a lot of fun and I even noticed that when they were asked to stand for the Pledge on the morning announcements they stood a little differently ;) I just LOVE this lesson!

September 5, 2014

Five for Friday {Sept 5}

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly linky party!! 
Here's my random fives from this week!
I just couldn't be more in love with these two! Now that we've had Murphy for a week he's come right out of his shell and is the most playful little guy ever! We just fall more in love with him each day.

Murphy Achievements:
Less accidents in the house and is going to the potty outside!
Is getting more comfortable going outside in general. Makes potty time a bit easier.
Crying less at night and sleeping more during the early morning!

Today marks my last day at work (a little part-time summer job) and I'm actually looking forward to it. Teaching is my passion so I can't say that I'll miss working retail by any means...however this little job was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to take the break I needed and was easy. Now, I get to focus on spending my last weekend in VA with family and friends this weekend and all next week it's packing, packing, packing for me!

This past weekend my girlfriends and I got together for a girls only brunch day and sometimes you just need uninterrupted girl time! I love these two so much because no matter what we find ourselves in we're always there for each other. It'll be difficult to move away from these gals!!

I've been so productive this week - probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm not in the classroom and I'm one of the few that has any energy left! I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on the first resources I use at the beginning of the year and launching my language arts block. Like many, I hit the ground running those first few weeks setting up routines and procedures for reading centers and guided reading. So hopefully these resources will be helpful to you too!

Here's a peek as to the products I've been busy with this week:

Reading Center Resource Pack
Pick it up {here}

Guided Reading Resource Pack
Pick up this FREEBIE {here}

Story Elements Pack
Pick it up {here}

Punctuation Posters
Pick it up {here}

I just HAD to share these. Have you heard of them before??? They're called Dammit Dolls and if you read the little patch it explains exactly what they're used for and it's hilarious. I'm sure there are many teacher-bloggers out there that could use a little Dammit Doll during the school week ;)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend spent with loved ones!

Remember to share your fives and link up!!

September 3, 2014

Reading Centers & a Sale!


Today I am sharing an additional resource that can be used during your Language Arts block and is easily implemented at the beginning of the year. To begin, the text that I, like many, use each year to introduce my reading centers is The Daily 5 and CAFE by "The 2 Sisters". If you haven't already gotten yourself familiar with The Daily 5 be sure to pick up a copy of their book!
                   
At the beginning of each year I always go through my class list and group my students based on their current reading level or the level that they finished first grade (or the year prior if you teach another grade). Check out my other post about Launching Guided Reading {here} for more on grouping. After I ability group my kids I set up my center board that displays each group and the center rotation for that day. I always use a bulletin board and pocket chart at the front of the room so it's easily visible to my students and they know what center they'll be at that day.

To help with the organization of the reading centers I have my
Reading Workshop Teacher Resource Packet!

Let's take a look...
Reading Center Cards
These center cards are bright and great visuals for students! This pack of cards comes with 4 different versions for Teacher Time center (guided reading) and 3 different Listen to Reading centers since each teacher uses different devices (computers, laptops, iPads, iPods, etc.)

Classroom Center Posters
Here are the companion center posters that match the rotation cards. Post these around your classroom so your students can easily find their center.

Picking & Reading Those "Just Right" Books
These posters are influenced from The Daily 5 text that teaches students how to pick a "just-right" book and the 3 ways we can read a book. I also included an anchor chart for finding comfortable and safe reading spots in the classroom. I typically introduce these posters one at a time as we discuss them in the mini-lesson. The Daily 5 text has great lesson ideas for introducing these concepts and strategies!

Anchor Charts!
Anchor Charts!!! I don't believe one could have too many anchor charts because it really helps students 'anchor' their learning each day. Plus these posters are great references for students throughout the year! These anchor charts correlate to the different reading centers you have in your classroom.

I love using anchor charts and developing them together. Again, The Daily 5 text has great ideas on what to put on the chart...but I always like to see what behaviors and expectations students come up with on their own. Each day we discuss 1-2 centers and talk about what the students should be doing during that time and what the teacher is to be doing. It's funny to see the kids see that teachers have jobs to do during reading time too!

Building Stamina!
Aaaand of course all the while students are practicing these centers they are building their stamina! One popular way to incentivize and encourage on task behaviors are to chart it either whole group or use the student blackline and have them record their reading stamina each day.

The chart I made goes up to 20 minutes over a 2 week period (10 days). This should be long enough to build stamina to the desired time but of course consider the age/grade of your kiddos and determine what the realistic expectation should be.


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September 1, 2014

September Currently!

I am linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently linky party {this is my first!}. I've always wanted to participate but for some reason I couldn't get it up in time but today I can! So here's my currently...

Listening: The joys of Netflix and Hulu Plus is the fact that one could spend hours binge watching their favorite TV shows and for the hubs and I that's many hours of Law & Order: SVU. We can seriously watch this show all day...and we just might ;)

Loving: Today is my husband's birthday and I just love the heck out of that man. He's been my rock and I am reminded each day how much he means to me and I can't wait to celebrate with him tonight! Also...I can't forget to mention how in love I am with our newest member of the Daniel family...Murphy!


I mean, who can't love these two? I'm one lucky lady ;)

Thinking: Currently I am thinking about how the hubs and I can spend today celebrating him. He's not one for wanting to do very much especially since we have this big move coming up and Murphy just arrived. However, this man does so much for us {and me!} that I want him to feel appreciated, especially today! I think we'll do dinner at one of his favorite French restaurants tonight :)

Wanting: Something that I know I've written about A LOT lately is our big move across the country coming up in just a couple weeks. Moving is always so stressful and the fact that we're not just moving down the street is a lot for me. Especially considering this is the first time I'm moving away from my family. So, one thing that I'm wanting is for our packing and actual move to go as smoothly as possible...even with our puppy!

Needing: Iced. Coffee. At this point I'd be ok with an IV hooked up to me because there's something to be said about a nice cold iced coffee to get you through your morning....afternoon...or heck, even evening. Now, I know I have a problem and I hear that's the first step...however, I'm ok with my little addiction and I'm not ready to quit, haha. It's a necessity for me because I'm definitely not a morning person and this...

3 Trips: After our move we actually have some trips lined up...and I'm hoping the hubs will be able to get time off to come with me. First, it's our trip to CA then I know around Christmas we'd like to get back to Texas {where he's from and his family lives}. Each year we love getting back home to TX because it's just so relaxing to have family around and get to see his Goddaughter. And finally we will be headed back to the DC area next month for weddings. Lots of moving and needless to say I will be happy to stay put in one place for a little while :)