Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Anchor Charts

Good morning everyone!

I was on Pinterest this morning (I am always on Pinterest, a great source for ideas and creativity flow!) and saw a blog post that I just had to share with everyone.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I decided to make a blog post about this blog post! haha

In education, there are many trends that come and go, but one thing that we can all agree with is that if students know what to do or when to do it, everything will run so much smoother in your classroom.  Hence the title of this blog post : anchor charts.

Anchor charts are charts that are posted in your classroom for a specific duration.  It could be the whole year, a couple of months or even simply a couple of days.  But if done properly, they are worth their weight in GOLD!  Best way to make anchor charts?  Make them with the students. Making anchor charts with students allow them to become involved, motivated and engaged in their own learning.  They don't just see another random poster up on the wall, they see something that they created, something that makes this classroom theirs, and that, my friends, is what will make this year the best year of your teaching career!

The blog that started this blog?  It's by Education to the Core.  The blog post that started this blog post?  Click here to see a wonderful display of anchor charts.  She has many - some that are norms in her classroom, some that allow students to reference back to what they need to do after they are done a task, some are about what she's working on right now in the classroom.  They're fantastic!

Do you use anchor charts in your classroom?  How or when do you use them?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Power of Structure and Routine

In my years of teaching, there is one thing that I wish I had known from the beginning: do the same thing every day and your students will thrive.  Seriously, that’s it.  Work up a routine and stick to it.  Every day, as much as possible, stick to the same routine from morning to night and seriously, you’ll see all your little issues disappear.

It took me 7 years, but this year, I really saw the power of keeping to the same routine every day.  During the summer, I started reading a lot of teacher blogs (something I had never done before, and something I strongly suggest every teacher does).  One of the blogs talked about the weekly paragraph.  And my mind started thinking and thinking.  And so my morning routine was born.  First thing when my students walk into my classroom every day, they work on their weekly paragraph for 15 minutes.  Every day they work on a different stage of the writing process and on Friday’s, we went to the computer lab (again, immediately after the bell rung) and they typed up their paragraph.

The first 15 minutes of my classroom were planned for the entire year.  The only thing I had to think of was a subject for them to work on.  That’s it!  It was amazing.  And since we kept track of their paragraphs throughout the year, you REALLY saw a difference in their writing.  Their introductory sentences were getting more creative. “Hi, my name is Julie and I’m going to talk about birds” is no longer an introductory sentence in my classroom.  Yes, sometimes they stick to general “Birds are an interesting creature but there’s one in particular that’s my favourite” but that’s ok!  That’s where they are in their writing and one day they’ll branch out from there, but you have to admit, that’s better than that first example!  But I’ll talk more about this weekly paragraph in another blog post.  The important point here was routine and structure.  Since the students knew what to do every day, they did it, and they got better at it as the year went on.

If you haven’t looked into Daily 5 yet, do it!  Do it now!  That changed my literacy block and added even more structure and routine to my day!  My students now know exactly how the centers work every day.  They get 15 minutes per center, 3 centers a day, and know exactly what to do in each one.  I did change up the structure of the Daily 5 to suit my needs and my classroom, but the principle is the same. 

The idea here is to do the same thing, every day.  When students know exactly what to expect, and know exactly what they’re doing, they can only get better at it.  Think of a hockey player shooting the puck (yes, I’m Canadian – hence the hockey reference!).  Does he shoot at the net only a few times?  No, he does it over and over and over again.  So when my students are doing the same thing over and over again, they get better at it.  They learn.  They have fun.  They thrive.

Ah, and did I mention you solve a lot of behaviour issues this way too?  That’s a benefit of structure and routine!  Obviously not all behaviour issues can be solved this way, but being organized and having a proper routine that is followed consistently minimizes down time in your classroom, which is when problems will arise. 

So if you do one thing for the end of the school year, start thinking about your routine.  Is it working for you?  Is it working for your students?  What can you do to make your classroom run smoother? What do you do right now in your routine that is your lifesaver?

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's my DUE date!

That's right, today, March 18th, is the day my unborn child is due.  Now I know that means nothing in the real world, but seriously, how hard would it be for him to come out NOW!  Alas... he's as stubborn as his mother and is afraid of change like his father!

Anyway, I'm working on some Fraction Bingo template cards today and hoping to get those posted up later for you guys.  I'm looking forward to finishing these, wish I had them while I was in the classroom still!  Kids LOVE to play BINGO and what better way to have them consolidate fractions skills by playing a game!  It'll be fun! Here's a sneak peak :

Last note for today - I've discounted my 75+ Reading Comprehension Questions Fan by 50% off!  These are GREAT to use in your classroom for whole-group discussion or in your literacy centers.  My students used them in their literacy centers by asking each other questions from the bundle, depending on which reading strategy we were working on.  It was great!  They loved the group work aspect, I loved the discussions that were happening because of these questions! Get them before 9pm est (unless you want to pay full price, which is more than fine with me!)

Head on over to my TPT's page and get your copy of my 75+ Reading Comprehension Questions Fan today!

Have a great day everyone! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My First Post

So here starts my journey.  My first blog post as The Purple Teacher, and I'm nervous!  What do I write?  Something inspiring? Creative?  Funny? Do I simply post about what I've been working on?  There's so many ideas floating in my head, and yet it's so hard to choose just one to talk about.  What if it's the wrong one?  What if no one likes it and never follows my blog?  AHHH... the life of a blogger!

Well, here goes, I'm going to mix all of my ideas into one blog post.  I think to start, I'd like to talk a bit about, well, me.  I mean, if you guys are going to follow my blog, it'd be nice to know who you're going to be reading about, right?  So my name is Linda, I'm a soon-to-be mom (literally, my due date is in two days), married to my wonderful husband K.  I've been a teacher for over 7 years, but honestly, I've been a teacher my whole life.  I'm the oldest of 7, and I taught my younger brother to write his name, to ride his bike, etc.  I've been teaching others for years, it's only natural that I fell into this profession.  

And I love it.  I mean, you don't become a teacher if you don't love it. Well you might, but you won't last very long!  You must be passionate about your students and making learning FUN for you to enjoy being a teacher.  Right?  Am I right?  Anyone reading this disagree?  I'd love to hear from you if you do!

Ahh, but I digress.  Let's get back to reality here.  So why did I choose the name The Purple Teacher?  Actually, I was having the hardest time finding a name!  Then I thought of The Red Teacher, but I just didn't like it.  I guess red just wasn't my colour (yes, I'm Canadian, so colour is spelt correctly!) Instead, the colour purple popped into my mind and I just liked the ring of it!  I googled it, and the first website that came up talked about immersing yourself in purple will give you peace of mind.  I loved that.  So there you go - I'm now The Purple Teacher.  

So there you have it.  My first blog post.  But I'm not completely done!  If you come across this blog post and would love a FREE product from my teachers pay teachers store, simply LIKE my Facebook page!  There's a FAN FREEBIE link right on the front page that will take you to a FREE product, just for you!  Ah, can't forget that link for you! The Purple Teacher - just click on that link and my Facebook page should open in a new window for you!  Easy peasy! 

And of course, how could I forget!  I must give you the link to my Teachers pay Teachers store!  How else are you going to see all the lovely products that I have for you?  Don't be scared, there are some great French resources on my store as well, as I am fluently bilingual (no, not from Quebec either).  Don't forget to FOLLOW my store for Flash Freebies and insider info! So go on over to TPT The Purple Teacher right now!

Enjoy your Sunday!