Saturday, September 20, 2014

Do you Dojo?

I've blogged before (see this post) about using the app Class Dojo in the classroom. It's an amazing classroom management app that focuses on increased participation and motivation among students. I use it in my 2nd/3rd grade combo classroom and my kiddos love it!

This week, I got the opportunity to teach other teachers in my district about this app and how it helps with classroom management at any grade level. We had teachers from elementary and middle school at this professional development session and it was great to hear that even the middle school teachers could see the benefits of using Class Dojo in their classrooms.

I love that I'm a "Class Dojo Mentor" and that I have the opportunity to share Class Dojo to other teachers who might be wondering how to get their students engaged and motivated to learn.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Focus on Fairy Tales

I've been trying quite a few things in my classroom this year. One of my new classroom projects is having a "focus wall." For the first few weeks of school, my focus wall was centered around our classroom rules and "how to be a great student."

This month, we are starting our unit on fairy tales so I decided to change our focus wall to reflect our new material. First up to bat is our dearest Cinderella...

I found these wonderful genre posters on TPT for FREE - got to love that! I printed them all out, laminated them, and will be using them this year.

And finally, some vocabulary words to go with our unit! I tried to pick words I thought the kiddos didn't know or couldn't figure out with context clues.

Do you use focus walls in your classroom? How do you use them and what do they look like?

Monday, September 1, 2014

CCSS and What?

So like many of you, I am one of many special education teachers across the U.S. trying to navigate the jungle that is known as CCSS. When I first learned about CCSS several years ago and the move toward a more cohesive standards approach, I was overwhelmed to say the least. Three years later, not much has changed.

While I've learned a bit more about the CCSS and how it directly affects my students with special needs, I still see a huge gap between what the school district's expect with implementation of CCSS and the realities of implementing such in a special education classroom. Has anybody else come to the same realization?

We began implementing CCSS in my classroom last year and have slowly been finding ways to modify what is expected into something more tangible and realistic for my kiddos.

This year, I started something new - posting CCSS objectives on my front board and discussing our learning objectives in kid-friendly language. I found some objectives headers on Teachers Pay Teachers (which I cannot find now that I wanna share them!)  I posted the headers on my front board, along with some sheet protectors. Inside the sheet protectors, I've placed "kid-friendly" learning objectives for the day/week. Next to the objectives, I have pocket charts with the Common Core standards for both my 2nd and 3rd grade students.

My students have enjoyed reading the objectives and learning about what they're going to be working on each week. We review these objectives each morning during calendar routine and throughout the day - specifically when we get into our small group centers. I try to bring back each activity we do and tie it into an objective.

I hope that the kids get something out of this (and get excited about learning!) and that they might take a little bit of this knowledge home with them. And maybe it will bring us a little closer to meeting those standards in the classroom.