Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pencil Sharpener

Before I get into this topic, I just want to say that I actually sharpen all of the pencils in my class for my kiddos.  It just makes management for transitions, lost pencils, and broken pencils so much easier for me.  By the end of First grade I usually allow them to venture over to my electric sharpener to start taking responsibility of their own pencils. Then I started hearing about this magical sharpener......So of corse I had to try it for myself! I mean sharpening 40 some pencils every Friday afternoon is not really my idea of Happy Hour! As I said before, I have heard wonderful things about this sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies from several of my coworkers and I couldn't wait to try it out in my classroom for myself.  I have to say that I am overall impressed with the quality.

There were several "pros" and "cons" that I found in this product.  I will start with the cons......

1.  When I received the sharpener I was SUPER excited, only to open the package to see it was damaged.  Not damaged with its inner workings, just on the exterior of the sharpener.  This really doesn't bother me too much but it may some people.  (I did not contact anyone about getting a replacement. I am sure that if I would have, they would have done something to fix the problem.)

2.  The price......$24.99.....That is a lot for my teacher pockets.
3. The sharpener did not come with any kind of manual or set up guide.  However, I did receive an email with a link for trouble shooting and other information.
4. This sharpener is not easy for little hands to just jump right in and go for it.  I teach in a K/1 classroom and there is no way I could just say go sharpen your pencil using this.  It would require a whole mini lesson at the beginning of the year modeling (several times) before they would be able to do it.  Some of there little hands are just not capable of the pinching, pulling, and turning that this product needs in order to work properly.  However you may always have those 1-2 kiddos you could show one time and they would be good to go! See below:

The "pro's":
1.  It is small and VERY quiet!
2.  It is perfect for 3rd grade and up. They could easily manage this piece of equipment on their own.
3.  It can attach to most surfaces with its little "hook" and if you are looking for a more permanent way of attaching, the company sells brackets that can do just that.

4.  It works very quickly.
5.  The pencils are the sharpest pencils I have every seen in my life.

Well, I believe that does it for my quick review.  Do you have a favorite sharpener? Love to hear about it if you do!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tips of the Trade (Giveaway AND Freebie)

Back to school is always a crazy time of year for everyone.  I have teamed up with a few of my blogging buddies to bring you an AWESOME hop full of freebies and a HUGE giveaway.

My contribution to our back to school hop can help you get through Day 1 successfully. Here are a few Tips of the Trade that I have used over the years:

1. This tip is important all year long.....Hugs in and out of the door.  When I say this I mean you should always greet your kiddos at the door as they are coming in and leaving. It builds a sense of trust and a foundation for a good relationship between you and your kiddos. It doesn't have to be a hug. It could be a high-five, a hand shake, a thumbs up, eye contact as you squat down to say hello or will know your kids best. I often ask them which they would prefer to do. Remember, this may be the only positive interaction some of these kiddos have all day!

2. Don't badger them with all of the rules at once.  I start with only 2 rules in the class for the first 1-2 days. Be kind and raise your hand (mostly because I can't handle everyone yelling at me at once and constant tap, tap, tapping on my side.) I have found in my many years of teaching that focusing on these 2 concepts at the very beginning helps to build a classroom family that truly loves each other.

3. Go NOODLE!!! The first day of school we Go Noodle like 6 times. This process really relaxes the kiddos and gets those nerves out. The funnier you are dancing, the more the kiddos will respond to you in the future. It allows the kiddos to see you at their level, having fun WITH them!

4. Have a classroom scavenger hunt.  Give the kiddos objects to find in the classroom like the pencil sharpener, the bathroom, the glue sticks, the expo markers, the clipboards, etc.  Tel them they can work together or alone. Whatever floats their boat.  This activity will not only allow them to get to know their surroundings better, but it also encourages them to build trust and relationships with their peers.

5.  Tour your school.  By this I do NOT mean walk to each place then say, "Here is the cafeteria".  I mean to actually go to the area and actually explain and model what is expected from them and what they can expect from you or any other adult that might be around.  For example, if you go to the cafeteria, take them through the line and model how to say their name or student number. Introduce them to the cafeteria workers. Then proceed to the actual table they will sit at. At the table model quiet voices and proper manners.  All of this modeling is done through you talking and the kiddos sharing their experiences.  Places that I suggest you tour are: the clinic (they should say hello to the nurses), the office (they should say hello to the secretaries), the cafeteria, the bus loop, the playground, the car rider area, and the walker/biker area. Remember to model clear expectations at each spot. Allow the kiddos to model good examples and non examples.

This would be a non example! :0)

6. HAVE FUN!!!  This is perhaps the most important on the first day. As a teacher you want the kiddos to come to school to learn. As a student you want to come to school to have fun.  Learning can be fun and there is no better time to set the tone for that than the first day of school. Play, dance, sing, and experiment together.  A few of my favorites are leap frog, sight word back writing, magic play dough, jitter juice, and did I mention Go Noodle? ;0)

By putting the effort in at the beginning of the year it will create a learning environment that your students will feel successful, safe, and productive in after just a few weeks into the school year.
Hard a work during Readers Workshop.

My FREEBIE for you tonight is a set of teaching posters and book shopping cards.

If you like the shopping cards, I have a great  emergent reader that explains How To Shop for books using the shopping cards.  You can get it for only 1.50 in my TpT store.  Just click How To Shop In A Classroom Library

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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