Friday, 29 August 2014

Sneak peak into my (unfinished) classroom!

Woah! I can't believe it's Friday already. That week flew! Between having a lot of planning/organisational meetings and a training course, I didn't get as much done in my classroom as I would have hoped. However, I still have two full days next week before the children arrive so there's plenty of time. I thought I'd share a quick progress photo report for anybody who fancies a sneak into my classroom decor process!
As you can see, I went to town with the paper flowers by my desk. I decided that if that board is going to be in front of me for hours upon hours each week, I may as well make it pretty!

The next area is my reading area and editing bulletin board. As you can see, there's lots to be added (including books when we sort our orders together!). The R-E-A-D owls are from Kathleen Amari-Crookston, the giant pencil is from The Teacher Wife and the "capital letters detective" display is by me (and available in my TPT store!).



Here is my birthday and calendar display. Obviously I have plans for the big, blank space! The adorable owl-themed classroom birthdays display is from Halle Hird and the owl-themed calendar set is from from Apple Girl Amber.


Below is the bottom half of my Learner Profile display on the door of my classroom. I found the owls on swings wall sticker on eBay (very cheap!), used this action cycle freebie and created my own purple lettering. My plan is that the children will take photographs of themselves representing the attributes of the Learner Profile and I will add each of these on clouds above the tree.

You can also see my PYP attitudes posters. I couldn't get a photo of the entire line as the lighting didn't work but imagine the other 6 attributes on the right! If you like those, you can buy them in my TPT store for just $2.50.








Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Back to school activity: Classroom scavenger hunt

Last year, I used this as one of the "first week back" activities. It is a useful thing to do on the first or second day back at school. It's very easy to prepare and it's a nice paired activity to allow the children to work with another child and to get to know the classroom at the same time.

You simply take photos of different things in the classroom like glue sticks, tissues, paint brushes, exercise books, a calendar, scissors, etc. Put these pictures on a sheet with a box underneath for ticking! Add a space for the name and date et voilá!

The children then walk around the room in their pairs looking for the items and ticking what they have found. 

Easy peasy!

Here's a terrible quality picture of mine from last year! I don't have a copy of the original file unfortunately!



Saturday, 23 August 2014

Dip Tips: Where to Begin

Hello there,

If you happen to be in a position to do your probationary year in Ireland or if you are just qualified, this may be of interest to you!

I am by no means an expert but this is some information and advice to give you the gist of how it runs going by my experience of doing the dip three years ago.

Happy reading!

Where do I begin?
Once you are qualified and eligible to do the dip, you need to go to the Limerick Education Centre website. In the "probationary teachers" section, you will find the OP1 form for teachers in most schools. If your school is a pilot school for the new method of probation called "Droichead," you can find the latest info there or on the Teaching Council website.

What do they expect from me?
Have a look at the last page of the "Procedures for induction and Procedures and Criteria for Probation 2013/14" document from the Teaching Council website. This gives an overview of the criteria you are expected to meet in the following areas:
  • Planning, preparation and recording of progress
  • Classroom management and organisation
  • Quality of teaching across curriculum areas
  • Quality of pupils’ learning in curriculum areas
Have you read it? See! That's not so scary now after all! Remember, the dip is not teaching practice. You cannot possibly maintain all-singing, all-dancing TP-style lessons on a long-term basis. TP was a 100m sprint, the dip is a marathon. Take it handy! Obviously you will need to do what is required to ensure that the children are learning in a positive environment and that you are covering the national curriculum but make sure you pace yourself.

The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT)
As part of the probationary process, you will be expected to complete the NIPT. This programme offers workshops with topics that are important for an NQT. They also give you an opportunity to meet others who are going through the probationary process. This is a plus for NQTs who are the only probationary teachers in their school.  Have a look at their website for lots of useful information and resources such as these planning guidelines.



What's next?
Now that you've applied for the dip and you're awaiting a visit from your inspector, what can you do?

Get your planning in order: 
This is how I organised my paperwork. I had two folders divided into sections as follows:

FOLDER 1: PLANNING FOLDER (with 5 sections)
1. Timetables (general class timetable, support teachers' timetables)
2. Current short-term (weekly) plans [Each weekend I would move these into section 3 and replace them with the new weekly plans]
3. Short-term plans (Weekly plans from past weeks, sub-divided by subject)
4. Long-term plans (termly plans)
5. Cuntais Míosúla (this is a monthly summary of what you have covered. You are legally required to do this. You should print one copy for this folder and send another to be filed in your school.)

FOLDER 2: ASSESSMENT FOLDER (2 sections)
1. Group assessments (e.g. MICRA/SIGMA results from the past year, any whole-group assessments, spelling test results, reading assessments and groups, etc.)
2. Individual assessments (sub-divided by child): IEPs, class tests, reading records, behaviour observation forms, etc.

You can download some pretty folder covers for free from Ms. Forde's Classroom.

When planning, make use of the fantastic online planning tool. It's much easier to copy and paste objectives from here than from the curriculum PDFs.

Prepare your classroom:
A print-rich, inspiring classroom helps to create a positive learning environment. Refer to your classroom posters constantly. If you cannot do this, perhaps they are not as valuable as you may have thought! It's very likely that your inspector will ask the children about displays and posters. Make sure to display the children's work. A really useful way to display work is a wall like this - then you just peg up the work rather than fiddling with mountains of Blu-Tack! Obviously you will change displays according to topics on hand but here are some staples that could be of use all year around (click on each for an example to inspire you!):

General:
Number lines (age-specific)

Early primary specific:

Senior-specific:
Foghraíocht (pronunciation)

My favourite sources for display materials are:
Seomra Ranga (for resources as Gaeilge)
Sparklebox (especially for headings)

I made a lot of dip resources, including a massive Dip Starter Pack including planning, assessment and display resources and examples of real dip plans. If you're interested in that, have a read of the blog post about it!

Have your children on board:
Get classroom management under control. It's very hard to teach anything if you cannot control the behaviour within the room. Try to strive for a balance where the children enjoy coming to school and are happy to share their ideas but that they treat you and their classmates respectfully. There are so many positive ways to go about this.

I used a token economy system during my dip year where they children got "Pirate Euro" notes for behaving well or really making an effort on a task. Together, we created a "rewards menu" and decided on appropriate prices. You can read about it here.

Currently I am using a clip chart system. You place all pegs on the middle section of the clip chart each morning and move them up or down according to their choices. Make your own, browse the net or have a look at the ones I have for sale here.

Take up an after-school activity:
Do something that is not dip-related to avoid becoming a teaching-robot. Play sports, take up a new hobby or go for coffee/lunch dates (preferably with someone who does not want to listen to you ranting on about the dip!). Remember to keep a healthy work-life balance. Replacing an hour of tweaking resources (that were probably fine an hour ago) with an hour in the gym, an episode of Love/Hate or a long bath will probably be of benefit to you and your students. An energetic teacher with good planning and preparation is far more productive and happy than a zombie teacher with PERFECT resources. Now, if only I could turn back time and listen to my own advice a bit sooner!

Keep yourself in the know:
Regularly check sites such as the INTO, Teaching Council, NIPT as well as less formal sites like the Education Posts forum (great for finding answers to specific dip-related questions and crowd-sourcing ideas for themes, methodologies, etc.) and following teaching blogs.

I hope this has been of use to you. I welcome all feedback via comments below.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Freebie Friday: WALT and WILF posters for sharing learning objectives and expectations

It's Friday and here's a freebie!

If you haven't already heard of WALT and WILF they stand for "We Are Learning To" and "What I'm Looking For" and are used to share learning objectives and expectations with your students.

This freebie contains two posters, one WALT and one WILF that can be laminated and then written on with a whiteboard marker. There are also two mini headings that can be placed on the whiteboard. You can then write your objectives/expectations under them and change them from lesson to lesson.
Click here or on the image to download from Google Drive.

This post is part of Teaching Blog Addict's "Freebie Friday" collection. Click on the link below to view the rest of today's freebies!

Freebie Fridays

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Reflection area resources (self-assessment and peer assessment)

If your have been following this blog over the summer, you probably know that I have been, ever so slowly, building up a bank of resources to make a reflection area in my classroom. I definitely feel the children in my class could have been given many more opportunities for written self-reflection. I thought dedicating a section of my room to this would promote this aspect of assessment.

I have already shared some of the resources for the reflection area on my blog (including the FREE peer assessment sheet.) 


I've gone about making the rest of the resources that I'll be using in my reflection corner. I've uploaded them to my TPT store so that you can purchase them if you like. Two of these sheets are directly related to IB schools as my school follows the PYP. However, the other four sheets and headers could be useful to teachers in any school setting.




The pack contains:
  • "Reflection Area" heading (A4)
  • "Reflection Corner" heading (A4)
  • Mini headings for each sheet (blue)
  • Mini headings for each sheet (multicolored)
  • and the following assessment sheets in A5 size (2 on each A4 page):
  • Peer assessment
  • Collaborative group reflection
  • How Well Do You Understand? (self-assessment - colour)
  • How Well Do You Understand? (self-assessment - black and white)
  • Two Stars and a Wish (with lines, colour)
  • Two Stars and a Wish (with lines, black and white)
  • Two Stars and a Wish (without lines, colour)
  • Two Stars and a Wish (without lines, black and white)
  • Learner Profile Aims
  • Attitude Goals

All of these items are available for sale individually in my store. Just use the filters to select "assessment" and you should find them easily.

Click on the image above to view the pack in my TPT store.

Stand by for photos of the finished assessment corner when I get free reign on my classroom next week!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

TPT Sale - TODAY only - 20% off many back to school items

300 × 300Happy Wednesday!

I'm taking part in the TPT back to school boost sale. It is taking place today (August 20th) and today only. 

I'm offering a massive 20% discount on my classroom decor kits, prionta sa timpeallacht packs, capital letter detectives display and IB PYP bumper poster sets.

Click here to visit the store and get shopping!



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tiger: Back to School Buys

Anybody familiar with this blog will know that I have a Tiger-Stores addiction. The school year is fast approaching so I took a wander in there with setting up classrooms in mind. 

I know many of your readers are Irish. There are Tiger stores in the counties of Cork, Galway, Dublin and Kildare. There are also Tiger stores in lots of other European countries and also in Japan.

Before I start, let me note that I am not officially affiliated with Tiger. I'm just a very satisfied (and obsessive) customer who wants to share!

These are my top 12 back to school buys from Tiger (in no particular order):

These speech bubble wall stickers with a chalkboard surface. They'd be fantastic to write your WALT learning objectives or for the children to write their quesitions about a topic.


This house has sticky notes on top and loose squares of paper inside. It comes in blue too. I went through two of these last year!


These paper clips are bright, colourful and BIG!

Ribbon galore! There's also some pretty red ribbon and ribbon with hearts in store at the moment.

These triangular pieces of card are great to make quick bunting. I used lots of colours to make WELCOME bunting outside my room last year.

I have a weakness for patterned paper. This would be lovely as a background for headings (or for doing origami as intended!)


The weakness for pretty paper continues. See how I used similar patterned paper in making cardboard owls HERE.

I love tissue paper flowers. I embellished all of my display boards with flowers last year. You can read the tutorial HERE.

Admittedly, this is not one product. Here you'll find loads of different types of beads and wire. This would be fantastic to keep little hands busy during break time, if they finish their work early or even in learning resource classroom to work on the fine-motor skill of threading.


Who wouldn't want an inflatable globe in their room? It's way more fun than a hard globe!

These foam dice are great for maths activities. I use them in my classroom and the children love the bright colours and large size.

These giant (A5) playing cards would be great for a variety of maths activities. The size adds a bit of novelty for your students. They're perfect as flashcards for reinforcing subitising skills in early primary school.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Back to School Boost Sale - ONE DAY ONLY - This Wednesday

300 × 300Hi there,

School-time is drawing nearer and nearer. Why not hit the sales on your computer?

I'm offering a 10% discount on many items in my store including the IB PYP bumper posters sets, various classroom decor kits and my "Capital Letters Detective" posters. The sale is active, for one day only, on Wednesday, August 20th. Buyers outside of America and Canada may need to double check the exact times for your timezone! You can use the promo code BOOST.

Click here to  visit my TPT store!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Learner Profile and IB PYP Attitudes goal-setting and reflection

This one is for the IB PYP teachers out there! As mentioned here before, I'm working on a reflection area for my classroom. This year I'd like my children to keep written reflections on how much they demonstrate the attitudes and learner profile attributes. The sheet contains the PYP action cycle vocabulary, "choose," "act" and "reflect." 

The idea is that the children will choose a learner profile attribute/attitude on Monday, act on it during the week and then reflect on their action on Friday. It could also be used monthly or per unit.

I've created two different sheets, both in A4 and A5. They can be bought individually in my TPT store or you can save $1 by buying them together in this pack.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Decorating a learning support/resource classroom

If you're working outside of a mainstream classroom setting, you might be getting jealous of all the teacher bloggers sharing their massive, decorated rooms. If you're lucky enough to have your own little room in which to offer extra support to children, here are some ideas of how you can spruce it up!

TABLE CADDIES:
As you will probably be using limited table space for a variety of activities, you may have to move writing/cutting supplies often. You can use a desktop caddy for handy, portable storage of all of those pencils, markers, scissors, rulers, etc. These can be bought or made (some tubs, a basket and a hot glue gun should do the trick - see how it was done on Tales of a Teacherista) and can be prettied up with ribbon or stickers.

Image source: The Learning Curve

Image source: Zeek's Zoo
This one has mini buckets glued to a "lazy Susan" so that children can spin it around to reach what they need.

Image Source: Kindergarten Smiles

TIMERS:
These liquid timers (€4 from Tiger) would be great to help children to work on time management skills.
Image source
BIG CALENDAR:
A big calendar display is a very useful resource to place in your room. Lots of sequencing activities are worked on within learning support/ resource rooms. Having  "Yesterday was," "Today is" and "Tomorrow will be" posters gives an opportunity for a simple sequencing task. A calendar can also be used as another method of reinforcing counting on and counting back. There are a myriad of these types of displays available for free and paid download on sites such as Sparklebox, TeachersPayTeachers and TeachersNotebook.

This is my classroom calendar from last year:

Calendar - part of the bee-themed kit I won from Classroom Decor and More.
Days of the week cards from Johnson Creations.
"The day is/ The month is" sign from Sparklebox.
I absolutely love Mama Jenn's idea of making the date in coins. They are added to the calendar using velcro dots. What a great reinforcement activity! She also cleverly stores the spare coins on an extra velcro strip beside this display.
Image source: Mama Jenn's blog

"CRIMINAL WORDS" DISPLAY:
Teacher's Pet has a wonderful display of "criminal words" i.e. overused words such as "said," "went" and "walked." You can download this for free here.


MATHS VOCABULARY:
Another one more suited to older primary school children is this maths vocabulary board.
Image source: Angela Silverwood via Clasdisplays.co.uk
If you don't have space for that one, you can download a printable version from Teacher's Pet.

NUMBER LINES:
It's a good idea to display number resources in a variety of forms to suit different types of learners. In my school we use Numicon which I have found to be fantastic for my visual learners. They offer lots of free resources on their site including these number lines.
Image source: Numicon.co.nz
Here is another bright number line. This free to download set by Keri Brown contains a number line with ten frames and very cute alphabet posters. 



ALPHABET/PHONICS POSTERS:
There are lots of alphabet posters available for free online (such as those in the free set above). However, if your school follows a scheme such as Jolly Phonics, Letterland, etc. then it's probably best to have these displayed.

MANIPULATIVES:
Any resource room will have lots of concrete materials for children to use. Keeping these organised in a bright display can add colour and order to your room. 
Image source: Rainbows Within Reach

Reuse baby wipe containers or food packaging to repackage games/manipulatives. Stick part of the game box (or a photograph) of the manipulatives for easy identification. These can then be stacked neatly beside a tall shelf/filing cabinet. 
Image source: Jazzie and Thalia

MISCELLANEOUS:

Brighten up a corner with some hanging decorations such as paper lanterns or large pompoms/paper flowers. View my pom-pom tutorial here.

Image source: NatSprat
Image source: This Little Life of Mine

Utilise all areas of your room. Create extra display space on the side of a bookshelf or the front of a desk by blu-tacking on backing paper and cardboard borders. 

Absolutely no space was wasted in this teacher's room!

Image source: Tales of a Teacherista
This one was done by placing two filing cabinets back to back.


Unknown source on Pinterest

Have a look at Ms. M's blog post about creative ways to display in classrooms for lots more ideas.

Take inspiration from others. Lucky for you, the person behind "Sped-ventures" has compiled a list of blogs related to special education. I'm sure you'll find lots of ideas there!

If you have any other resource room ideas, please comment below with your ideas!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Win a classroom management clip chart!

Hi folks!

August is flying by so here's a little competition to help to ease the Back to School Blues. You can win one of my classroom management clip charts, in English or as Gaeilge. There are a few different themes in my TPT store. You can choose your favourite.



Click on this link to go to my Facebook page and enter. All you have to do is like the page, then find the post with the competition and share it! Easy peasy! I'll pick a winner on Saturday.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Classroom management clip charts AS GAEILGE

Irish primary school teachers! Do you use a classroom management clip chart in your classroom? I used one last year for the first time and found it great. 

You write each child's name on a clothes peg. All children's pegs start the day on the green section of the chart. You can then ask them to move their peg up or down according to their behaviour throughout the day. I find it very effective as simply saying "Mary, do you need to move your peg?" was a calm warning. The act of moving their peg up allowed for reinforcement of positive behaviours. They loved doing this!

I have created various versions of these clip charts as Gaeilge (as well as in English). All of them cost $2 (which is about €1.50) - not much more expensive than a pack of stickers!

You'll find more resources as Gaeilge - including some freebies - in my TPT store. Please have a browse!


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Freebie finds

Hi all,

Here are some freebies I found that I'll be using in my classroom this year.

Let's start with my favourite, this owl-themed classroom birthdays display from Halle Hird in Across the Hall in 2nd Grade. I love how each owl is dressed appropriately for the month. Of course I was delighted to see an Irish-themed owl (complete with a THREE-LEAFED shamrock - kudos to you Halle!) for March.



Next is this lovely owl-themed calendar set from Apple Girl Amber. The set contains many colour varieties. I chose one with black numbers as I feel they are easier to read.

I found this free action cycle poster (for IB teachers!) on the PYP section of Mrs. Nicole Calderbank's Teach Love blog.

This very sweet owl-themed "I love reading!" poster is available for free at Kelly Benefield's TPT store.

This giant, pencil-shaped "What do writers write?" poster inspired by Cara at The First Grade Parade is available as a free download from Lindsey AKA The Teacher's Wife.


These key concepts posters (another for IB teachers!) came from Ms. Murdoch's store on TPT.


These writing process posters, designed to be used as a clip chart were created and shared for free by The Teacher Wears Prada. I'm going to find a pencil template and attach this to pegs for the children to place their peg at their current stage in the writing process.

And, as always, I have raided Sparklebox's supplies of owl-themed banners. I'll probably be using "Whoo's in our class?" "Our class birthdays" and "Our class promises."



A huge, huge thank you to all of the teachers who have provided these resources free of charge!