Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Resolutions and Back to School Books


Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is hosting this linky party on back to school resolutions.  I've always kept my back to school promises in a notebook.  All year long I write about what failed and how to fix it or what I should try- and always under the frame of "NEXT YEAR".  Yep, yep, I've got that procrastination bug, indeedy!  But when I started this blog in May, I was turning over a new leaf, and reinventing myself a bit.  Super is NOW! Or at least, I'm reaching for it instead of putting it off.  So this linky party is right up my alley. Maybe sharing them out there will make me more likely to stick to it.

1) I resolve to create a classroom environment that is comfortable, organized, and positive.  Which means, I will do a theme, throw out half of the clutter, and make a concerted effort to minimize the use of negative statements.

2) I resolve to keep consistent lesson plans. I have a real tendency to go gang busters, and then slack, and then observation time rolls around and I go gang busters again, and then slack.  I am a roller coaster of efficiency.  This has never really been an issue before, since at my old job they never ever ever EVER looked at our lesson plans.  My new place though, we actually turn them in at the end of the year to be archived.  So I've got to step up my game and do what's expected.

3) I resolve to keep a consistent grade book.  Yeah, welcome to Slackerville!  I totally put it off until report card time and then stay up for hours crunching them in.  It's a ridiculously foolish thing to do on my part, because I always end up doing it at home and I need to keep that time free for my family- not a laptop.

*The great thing about Numbers Two and Three, is that the Fabulous Karen at Flamingo Fabulous totally wrote up our entire year long range plans that are so specific my lesson plans are already half written for me, and therefore I can easily PRE-input what I'll be grading in any given quarter before school even starts.  Yes, she is the bombdiddily!  Go visit her blog for her fantastic shoe giveaway and grab yourself a pair of these babies:

4) I resolve to keep a better data wall- establishing that the word "better" means I'll actually keep one.  Luckily, Karen did make a note of each type of assessment and date due on the long-range plans, so I just need to keep up with them.


5) I resolve to actually complete all of the necessary reflections in the PYP Binders including student sample work AS each planner is completed, rather than doing a half-assed epic fail of it at the end of the year. And again, thanks to Karen, each week that this should be done is noted on the long-range plans.  Ah me, that girl will have saved my life this year.

And Chrissy at First Grade Found Me is starting a recurring linky for sharing holiday picture books.  We're starting with great Back To School reads.

A lot of my favorite first read-alouds I shared on my Must Have Picture Books post, so you'll want to check that out too, if you haven't already, for some suggestions.  But Since I loooooove books, I have others I can mention:

Shredderman: Secret IdentityShredderman by Wendelin Van Draanen is a chapter book- but a great read-aloud that also offers some awesome cartoony pictures that my second graders have always loved - This is the story of a fifth grader, Nolan, and his fight for justice against a bully Bubba Bixby.  There is a lot of humor, you get to say the word "butt" and make the kids think you're ultra cool, but also provide them with a solid story you can refer to all year about making good choices and preventing bullying behaviors.  There are four books in the series if it becomes a favorite, and if you do end up reading the whole series to your class, you get to see the eventual character transformations of both Nolan AND Bubba.  And I have always liked that about the series, that you can see how Nolan was able to change Bubba.  Kids need to know that it is possible for people to change and be forgiven.

Chrysanthemum Big BookI know everyone has mentioned Chysanthemum by Kevin Henkes- but I have to make mention of it too, since it is indeed perfect for the beginning of the year and there are so many millions upon BILLIONS of activities that you can do with this book at any grade level.  I found this website Teaching Heart that takes a stab at sharing a good many of these ideas.  I plan to use it mostly with starting off my word wall with the student names, so we can do lots of related art and math activities and get-to-know you games all with our names, put them on the word wall, and then use them all year long to point out phonics and syllables and everything else.  And it also does double duty as a morning meeting sort of read-aloud to talk about hurtful words.  There is a very sweet wrinkled heart activity that goes with this book that I found at First Grade Wow.  Plus, Kevin Henkes makes for a great author study, so this is a perfect start to sharing his wonderful books.
If You Take a Mouse to School

An excellent first month of school book, since it sets up for using the whole series through out the year for teaching cause and effect as well as compare/contrast, and authors as mentors where kids can write their own cause and effect book in the style of Laura Numeroff. Here at Teach With Me, they have a free 16 page .pdf download of mice activities to go with this book. And here at Teacher Vision they have a printable of tons of cross curricular extension activities. If you've never used Teacher Vision before, you can have 5 free items, and then you have to subscribe.  But you can also just view the page for free and get ideas if you don't want to print it.  This is a great book for making text-to-self connections as well, since this can open up for a discussion about what the students expect to do at school.

Miss Nelson Is Missing!
  Seriously, this is CLASSIC.  It must be read!  Although, I do shy away from it a bit because I always expect the kids to have heard it a million times already.  But the thing is- I'm not the only one thinking that, so I'm starting to come across kids who have never heard of it before.  And is it not perfect for morning meetings to generate ideas on how behavior choices affect the classroom environment?  A wonderful opportunity to look into Miss Nelson's perspective and think about how the children's choices affected her emotionally.  And then how her deciding to be negative Viola Swamp affected the children emotionally.  The consequences of our behaviors on the heart.  A good good read. You can also check out The Busy Teachers Cafe for lots of activities to go along with this book.

Follow the Line to School (Viking Press USA)
And lastly, Follow the Line to School by Laura Ljungkvist.  It's sort of meant for Pre-K, but there is a lot in here that can be used for anybody in primary.  It plays out a bit like an I Spy book (which come on, you know even fifth graders eat those books up!)- but it has such great illustration techniques that it's perfect for the Illustration Unit that we use in Writer's Workshop at the beginning of the year.  Kids can really see the diversity that is possible with simple line illustration and also embellishment.  I haven't seen any posts for extensions on this book, but I think it fits well with the idea of mapping as a social studies extension.  Kids can create "follow that line" maps of their homes or neighborhoods, or even their own school.    Anybody have any other ideas for this cute book?

Okay, writing about all this back to school stuff has left me with an intense desire to write some lesson plans. Look at that! Already working on one of my resolutions.  Crazy.


  1. I could also add your second and third resolutions to my list! Every year I start out grading everything right away, then I start thinking that I'll do it later and next thing I know, it's grade card time and I have weeks worth of grading to do! I love those shoes, too!

    Teaching Special Kids

  2. I love Shredderman! It is one of my favorites. I have never read Follow the Line--so I am excited to check it out!

    I also became one of your newest followers. I would love to have you come by my blog and visit!

  3. Thanks for linking up with your resolutions! It sounds like my new #1 resolution should be to find me a Karen! :) And, those shoes...those are awesome!!

    Teaching Maddeness

  4. Hi,
    I'm your latest follower--you're almost at 100!!! I'm a newbie blogger. I appreciate all of the sharing of advice and ideas. Come on over for a visit sometime!
    Teaching Fabulous Firsties!

  5. Thanks for linking up to the party! I appreciate you sharing the links for activites to go with the books. I'm going to check them out!
    First Grade Found Me

  6. Thanks for sharing!!! If you have time stop by my blog and join my "Classroom Tours Linky Party"! I would love to see your classroom!!


    Brigid's Daily Lesson Log

  7. Those shoes are simply A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!

    Tangled with Teaching

  8. I work with someone who would just flip over those shoes! Great resolutions-I need to be better organized and keep up with assessments as well. :)


  9. The great thing which inspire me in this blog is the way of sharing some of the useful and usual facts, so I really like it, thanks for sharing.
    PCB Design

  10. OMG this makes me sound so Type-A... because I was doing such a great job at hiding it before... Snort. I totally agree with you on the grade book. Ive been working on a grading sheet using the long range plans to plug in graded items before-hand. Not sure if it's any good until I actually start using it but I'll pass it along if you want.

    ❤ Karen
    Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade