A quick classroom management tip

I have a quick and simple tip for you today. Another teacher gave me this tip a few years ago and I love it! (I wish I remembered who gave me this tip and where they got the idea from so I could give the credit.)
Do you ever start to give directions and you have those eager beavers halfway out out the door or rummaging through their desks to get started? Problem is, they haven't listened to your actual directions! When I want to give a direction for the whole class that involves movement, I always hold up one finger. 

This tells them that they cannot start moving yet. If they start to get up or get materials out, I start my directions all over- from the beginning. 

After I get through my directions, I hold up a second finger. 

That signals my students that they may begin to follow my directions. This works better than anything else I've tried. After starting over a few times, they truly do take me seriously! They have no choice but to sit on the edge of their seats and listen! 

Hope this helps!

Additions to Ready-to-Go Halloween Printables and some Flashback Freebies

Last year I made a "ready to go" Halloween printable pack. This year, I've added to it. I added a few short stories that are pretty simple for your beginning readers. I also added a few opinion writing prompts that I made for a teacher at my school. Again, for beginners. :) I also added a Spooky Sight Word Spin because I've been using those like crazy in my own groups and I wanted a Halloween one that they could take home. There is now a second sentence writing page mainly because I needed one. 

I added some more skill pages so this pack matched my others more closely and so you could get more practice with these Common Core standards. 

Shawn chose to do this writing prompt tonight and it made me chuckle. He actually said a little more than he wrote. He originally said, "t would be less boring than watching your dad do it." Ha! Then when it was time to write and he was repeating his sentence with the question in the answer, he changed it to this: 

And these are part of my plans this week!

If you already bought this pack, make sure you get these additions by downloading it again. :) 

 If you would like to see more of what it is in this pack, click here to see last year's post.

Last year, I also posted these two freebies:

A Word Race:

And this is one of my favorites:

Click on the pictures to download these freebies!

Organizing and Managing My Literacy Centers

I've had a lot of questions about how I manage and introduce my literacy centers. I hope this post helps! It took me a few years to come up with this system, but once I did, my life was so much easier! For those of you who have followed me for a while, much of this is review. BUT you might want to skim this anyway because I did go into more detail in this post. 

The Basics:

My centers are changed monthly because I couldn't keep up with weekly changes. Each month, my students get their menu.  

In the picture below you can see how the centers are organized in my classroom. I have a small classroom, so I knew I wouldn't be able to do centers in a station-type set up because there just wasn't any space. This takes up very little space in my classroom, which is part of why it worked for me!

Notice in the picture above, that the center headings on the menus match the headers on the folder holders. Inside each folder holder are the centers that are under that column. The picture shows an example of a cover under reading. Read, Visualize, Draw is a reading center. There is a label on the cover to remind students which column it is under. That also tells them which folder holder to return it to. 

After a students completes a center, they color in that center.

When it's time to do centers, students will choose a center from the folder holders:

I make enough copies for each student to do the center, plus a few extras just in case. If there are extra copies at the end of the month, I just use those the next year. If there are pieces that go with that center, they will also be in that folder. 

Students take that folder to their desk or a part of the room where they are working. I let my students choose a "successful" spot in the room. If you give them this freedom, there is a lot of modeling, practicing and role playing involved at the beginning of the year. 

When it is time to rotate, they clean up the contents of the center and put it back in the folder. Then they return it to the correct folder holder. They can look at the sticker in the corner if they can't remember which folder holder to return it to. 

Their completed student sheet can go in one of two places:
1. You could have them turn it in and then you hang on to it until the end of the month in a filling system.
2. They can put the completed worksheet in their personal center folder. They will also put centers that aren't quite finished in their center folder so they can return to it later. 

All students get a center folder if you choose option #2:

Also in their book boxes are books, writing notebook, and a pencil.

If you choose option #2, you will want to check their center folders throughout the month to make sure they are on track. You will also want to grade them throughout the month so that you don't have TONS to do at the end of the month. I would check their folders weekly, grade the finished centers, and check them off on my checklist. Then I could see who was on track and who wasn't.)

If you want to have a little control over which centers your students will do that day, 
you could use a poster like this: 


Here is how I store my centers throughout the year:

Getting Started:

Odds and Ends:

Centers are just ONE piece of my Reading Workshop. I also do Guided Reading and a version of Daily 5. By "Daily 5", I mean that I took many of the principals of Daily 5 for the other rotations. I also call it "Free Choice". Basically, it's students' independent reading, writing, listening to reading, or buddy reading. This is where they choose what they read or write, Daily 5 style.  

Click on the picture below to go to an older post explaining this in detail:

Those pictures at the bottom are examples of choices for "Free Choice" to fill in the other rotation spots.

I hope this post gives you some insight and stirs some ideas for you in your classroom. If you want to check out my literacy centers, click on the pictures below. 

Combos also available: 

Feel free to ask any questions! Now is the perfect time. I'll answer right now this post so all can see. :)

Five for Friday: Halloween activities and Comprehension goodies

I'm linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday! I had a wonderful week. One of those weeks where the kids were so engaged and we just had fun together. I love my job! Here are just a few of the things I did with my first, second, or third grader groups. I tried to pick one activity from each grade level to keep it interesting.  :) 

1.  Sight Word Practice

For my first graders who are trying to learn new sight words, this is a favorite! They build simple sentences with sight words and one card that has a picture cue. Each time they build a sentence, they have to figure out if the sentence makes sense and sounds right. They also end up reading the sight words over and over as they work on building their sentence. Repetition? Check. Using picture cues? Check. Using syntax and meaning? check. One to one correspondence? Check. 

You can find this in my Build a Sentence pack. 

We also did more from this sight word spin. I have one that works for 1st graders and also one for my 2nd graders. 

2. Halloween Phonics: 
I love making CVC word building extra fun by making it seasonal. :) We talked about how the web should remind us what sound e makes.  

The next day, we did this CVC word building activity:

I store these two centers together like this:

These can be found in my Hands on Halloween Pack. 

On Thursday, we did this activity: 

My third graders are working on bossy r. They had fun with this activity. 

My first graders and some second graders are using these story cards. They look forward to them every day! They love using the white board markers on them. They are so interactive! Click on the picture to see more about these.

After reading several times, they get to read their card to the group. They are now experts at using a "character voice" and a "narrator voice". We often go through and highlight punctuation too, which helps them to pause at all the right places. I need to start working on a  winter set! When I run out of the fall ones (which will be soon), we will work on our super hero set!  

4. Comprehension Activities:
I've talked about my beloved readings-z.com before. I love these books! This week one of my groups read this book: 

We made this anchor chart to organize the important details in the book. 

To make sure everyone was engaged, I had them use these highlighter strips to find the answer. In some cases, the author came out and told us. In other cases, we needed to infer. 

I read this cute little story with my 3rd grade group:

We are mostly working on comprehension, so I try to think of questions that really make them think. Sometimes it's the question itself that stumps them. I've learned that helping our students develop tools to understand the question is a comprehension strategy in itself. 
For the 1st chapter, we did this:

The following chapters all had great comprehension opportunities too! 
For chapter 2, we practiced sequencing. We sequenced the events in that chapter (which were basically the steps he took to plant the pumpkin).
For chapter 3, we identified the problem and solution. We also did some visualizing for a tricky part in the chapter. 

After reading, we did a character analysis for Landon. There are a few different words you could pick to describe him. Of course you have to find evidence in the text to back it up though! In case you missed my post about character analysis, you can find it here. It's one of my favorite posts so far!

I have a treat for you today! 

5. A Fun Wedding
I love weddings. Well, truly I love receptions. Ha! I went to the most beautiful wedding at Lake Tahoe last weekend. It was perfect. John and I got away for the weekend and my kids got showered with treats during a weekend my dad. Win, win for everyone.  Here's a picture from the wedding:

I hope you all had a great week too!

Head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see some other Five for Friday posts.