Friday Favorites

Today concludes the first week of school! We technically started last Friday but this was our first full week back. What a week! It was a GREAT week but a busy one! I have been focusing on building relationships and getting to know my students. After a full 6 days together, our bonds are starting to strengthen. That is exactly why I came back to the classroom, I missed the close relationships with students and seeing their eyes light up when they learn something new or when a student who struggles to make good choices has the best Friday EVER! Those little things are why we do what we do and I am so happy to be back teaching. 

Here are some of my favorites this week:

ONE // Bloomz

Bloomz is an app for teacher-parent communication. Most of my parents have it downloaded which makes communication a breeze. One parent messaged me because her son lost his lunchbox. It was easy to message her back saying we will look in the lost and found, he ended up finding it there! I had to send a quick message to a parent about how their child goes home and she messaged me back right away. It is much faster than email or has been taking place of writing notes back and forth in the student's agendas (that is still an option for parents to do). I, personally, am not going to use the app to communicate about student's negative behavior, I think it is hard to make sure your tone is correct over a message. I still believe in picking up the phone and making a phone call BUT Bloomz is great for short communication.

I have also been posting a daily recaps for parents with pictures throughout the day, they LOVE it! I've been trying to take pictures for the blog and Instagram so taking the photos I've already have and sharing them with parents has already done wonders for building relationships. I didn't intend to post a daily recap each day but I've had 4 parents request I continue so I will. They know what is going on in the classroom and many students tell me about the conversations they have had with their families about their learning. The parents can like and comment on posts or photos I post. It is like our own private social media app dedicated to our class.

TWO // Big Insulted Water Bottle

I try to do my part to take care of our Earth. An easy switch is using refillable water bottles rather than disposable plastic ones. At home I also use reusable straws. II LOVE this water bottle, I'm on my second year of using it. It is in my top 5 of teaching essentials. I carry it everywhere with me. To dismissal, in the hallway, and of course all over the classroom as I teach.

There are many brands out there, mine is by Fifty/Fifty, but I've heard great things about Hydro Flask too. I bought this lid with a straw to add to my bottle. I used to drink out of a Yeti tumbler but I would have to refill it ALL day long, it didn't hold enough water for me (probably because it held so much ice). But I find the 32oz Fifty/Fifty bottle lasts me majority of the day but I may upgrade to the 40oz eventually.

THREE // Wordless Picture Books

One of our favorite lessons this week was one where we read wordless picture books and used thinking stems to discuss our thoughts. We have been working on our metacognition and I've been teaching lessons from Comprehension Connection.

In Comprehension Connection, it is recommended to use wordless picture books but I never tried it before. I wanted to give it a try so I requested ALL the wordless picture books I could find at my local library and I saved my favorite one, Journey, for our whole class to read together. We read Journey together but since there are no words, students had to share their thinking of what was happening in the story. Their discussion was on FIRE! They were so incredibly engaged and when I told them you now get to read more wordless picture books with a partner they were THRILLED! I have the books stationed where they can continue to read them through out the week, they are choosing to read those books nonstop.

The best part about the wordless picture books is that it forces you to think. The author has no words to tell you what is happening so you have to see, guess, infer, and notice all the subtleties. It is reading closely. I am so happy they are developing these skills in low-risk, easy books because these skills will transfer over to books with words.

We are big fans of Journey, Quest, and Return in my class! I also really want to read Chalk, have you read it?

FOUR // Morning Choice

My end goal is for students to choose a STEM item they could use to build something each morning. My Donors Choose project got funded so I even have the STEM materials on the way, YAY!! But I don't think my students would have been ready for all of those materials the first week and probably not ohs second week.

To prepare for more choices, we have been starting small with just a few choices. Our mornings go like this: students enter the classroom, greet me and their classmates, unpack their backpack, choose their seat for the day, and then they can choose whatever they would like to do. They can read, book shop (choose new books from our class library), draw, play with math manipulatives, etc. Some students have even created their own choices. One student loved a team builder we did so much (Saving Fred) he requested I make it available for him to do in the mornings--- yes! Most of the students love to play with the math manipulatives such as our snap cups to build things and geoboards.

I love this part of the day because the students are so happy and relaxed. It is amusing watching them as they consider that it is their choice to do something. Some students are still getting used it and ask, "What am I supposed to do?" When I answer telling them they can do whatever they would like to do, their faces are so perplexed. But they are getting the hand of it and I think love it as much as I do.

They are going to lose their minds when they see all of the STEM resources they'll have available, their amount of things they will be able to build and create will be infinite. That is the where morning choice is headed!

FIVE // Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour

I saw Taylor Swift in concert on Tuesday night. She was AMAZING! I got a great deal on our floor seats which led me to being SO CLOSE TO HER!

It was easily the best Tuesday ever. Her concert was spectacular. It was so much more than a concert, it was a full on production with the outfits, sets, fireworks, lights, and more. It was truly incredible. I highly recommend seeing her tour if you can!

The 75 year old gentleman who sat next to us also loved the show and attempted to film most of it on his huge iPad. He had a hard time recording so my sweet husband helped him out. He told us many, many times that he couldn't believe how good it was!


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