September 5, 2016

*Surprise* Role Models- an EASY Classroom Management Strategy that Works!

Hi Friends!
I'm so excited to share a classroom management strategy that has been successful in my classroom for years! I LOVE learning new tips and tricks when it comes to classroom management because you never know when you're going to need to change it up! It's good to have an abundance of management ideas so that you can whip out a new idea when you are no longer getting the response you are looking for!  One of the most important things to remember is that your class is going to be different every year. A strategy that worked really well one year, may do absolutely nothing for your current class. Don't be afraid to mix it up and try something new!

A classroom management strategy that has worked well in my classroom every year is

I know, I know! It's hard hold back all of your excitement, but hear me out.
A surprise role model is a student that is making good choices, being a role model for others, AND does these things when they think the teacher isn't looking!!

This strategy can be used in any situation at school. I use it during transitions, when I'm teaching whole group or small group, and while my students are at stations. One of my favorite ways to use this is when we are walking in the halls. I may say, "I'm going to be looking for a surprise role model on our way to lunch". Once we get to our destination I'll tell students who the surprise role model is and let them wear the lanyard. I don't always announce when I'm looking for a surprise role model though because I want to catch students making great choices when they don't even know I'm looking. After all we want to encourage our students to make good choices ALL of the time.

You can grab these tags to make your own lanyards for FREE in my TPT store.
Click on the image below!

Of course, it's important to tell students why they became a surprise role model. I like to explain to the entire class what that student was doing to become a surprise role model. Of course, after that we celebrate with a round of applause!  For example, "I really liked the way Corbin held the door for our entire class without anyone even asking him!" And then we would cheer for Corbin!

Families love hearing that their child was a surprise role model too!
These certificates encourage families to ask their child what they did to become a surprise role model at school. These are a great way to build positive relationships between school and home and encourage communication between students and families!

You can grab these certificates for FREE in my TPT store by clicking the image above!

Hop on over to Teaching with Heart and Polka Dots Please for more classroom management ideas! Click the image below!

Have the best week!!

July 22, 2016

Why I choose Bloomz...and YOU should too!

Hi Friends!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Today I'm sharing all about how I use the Bloomz app to communicate with families in my classroom. In the past, I've used the Remind app, but it didn't have all the features that I needed to make communicating as easy as possible!
This past school year I decided to try out Bloomz and I LOVED it!!

Bloomz is a FREE communication app that allows you to safely communicate with families!
Bloomz is simple to set up and requires no exchange of phone numbers! 
 It's so much more than a messaging app though! Check out all it can do!

Bloomz is 100% safe to use. 
There is NO exchange of phone numbers. 
Families just download the app and type in the class code to get started.

I love that I am able to communicate with families quickly. I can send a message to just one family OR the entire class. When parents send me a message, I get an alert on my phone from Bloomz, like a text message. Parents can turn on notifications so they are alerted when you send them a message or make a post. 

 I use the Post feature most often. I use this to post every day updates and photos of what's going on in the classroom! Families LOVE to see their children's experiences at school! It also gives families a talking point at home. We know that when families ask their children "What did you do at school today?" that the majority respond with "Nothing". When families see the learning that is taking place or the pictures from recess, they can ask their child more targeted questions about their day! Parents can "like" and comment on these posts too! Of course, you can turn the comments off if you aren't comfortable with that. You can also schedule the post for a certain date and time too!

Perhaps you want to attach a form or classroom newsletter to your post, you can do that too!
Families can also use the post feature!
 We went on our field trip to the zoo this year, and parents took pictures of their groups of kids and posted them so that every one could see! Isn't that awesome?! Have I sold you yet?! 
Keep reading...I can promise you it gets BETTER! 

I can also post Alerts or Announcements in Bloomz. An example of an announcement might be "Please remember to send in your permission slip for the field trip by Friday!" You can also pin it to the top of the feed for a period of time. In looking at that announcement, I would set it up  to be pinned to the top through Friday, so that families see it over and over!

You can also post Alerts in Bloomz. An alert will notify families immediately. An example of an alert might be, "We are on a 2-hour delay due to the hazardous weather conditions!" An alert is used to communicate *urgent messages!

My absolute favorite feature of Bloomz is that parents can communicate with one another on their own!! They can send each other messages!! (if you aren't comfortable with this or it becomes a problem, you can turn it OFF!) You will not see these messages either!  This means that when a child goes home and tells their family about their new best friend, the parent can send a private message to that child's family to set up play dates, etc.
This is a really BIG deal (especially in Kindergarten)!! 

You can also create Events with the Bloomz app. Perhaps your school is holding a Book Fair, or a Craft Show and you want families to have it on their calendar. Just create an event and you can add it to the calendar! There are many options to use within Events. You can require an RSVP,  ask for volunteers or items to be donated. Families can RSVP, sign up to volunteer or sign up to bring supplies for the event all in the Bloomz App!

The Volunteer feature is a great way to get families involved in the classroom. I use this when I need help with classroom parties. You can request items or volunteers, and it generates slots for families to sign up. Another way to use the Volunteer feature is by titling it "Supplies Needed" and asking for items that you need in the classroom. Families are often happy to help, and this is a great way to ask for supplies without making any one feel obligated. Families can sign up if they would 
like to donate, or pass. 

Another great feature of Bloomz is that you can set up Parent-Teacher Conferences! And by set up, I mean that Bloomz does all the work for you! You just select the days for  conferences and pick a start time and end time. You can adjust the time slot duration to reflect how long your conferences last. You can even put a break in for a meal or a potty break! How awesome right?! 
Once you set this up, families will be notified that conferences are posted. They can click right on it and sign up for available times. Conferences are set on a first-come, first-served basis. I was blown away that the majority of my conferences were scheduled within just hours of posting this!

So now you're probably wondering how you get started! It's a super easy, and speedy quick process. 
First you are going to click the image below! 

It's going to take you to the Bloomz site, and you'll need to choose Join Bloomz

After selecting to join, you'll need to select your role. 

Then you'll fill in your information and select Sign Up

Next,  you'll have some tasks to complete. First, you'll want to download the app to your phone. Just click on the words and it will show you what to do! Second, verify your email. Third, take a quick  tour. I recommend doing this so that you can see the format and learn a little more about the features! 

The Fourth step on this page is Create a Class. Once you click on this, you'll be able to add your school, (if it's not already on there!) name your class, and allow or disable the parent messaging feature. 

Once you have your class created, it's time to invite parents. There are 3 different ways to invite families. Choose whichever works best for you. I use the class access code. 

If your school has a "Back to School" night or  a "Curriculum Night" I would recommend getting parents to sign up right then and there. You can have the access code displayed somewhere in the classroom. All parents would have to do is download the app and type in the code to join your class!! 

Of course families aren't always able to attend those school events, so you can easily print step by step directions and send them home with their child!

I hope that this post was helpful to you in learning more about Bloomz and setting it up! If you have any questions,  or want to know more about Bloomz put it in the comments below!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Have a fabulous day! :) 

July 21, 2016

Back to School Gift Tag FREEBIE

Hi Friends!! 
Thanks so much for stopping by.
 I can't believe summer is coming to an end! 
I know some of you still have many weeks before you head back into the classroom, (so if that's you, save this for later) but if you are like me and some of my other teacher friends,
your summer is coming to a close.
Back to School is one of the most exciting times of the year!

But before you head back into the classroom, you need make sure that you are prepared! 

 I mean once the "Back to School" rush hits, we're lucky to make it home by 7 P.M. 
And lets just be honest, once we make it home we usually collapse on the couch. 
We're lucky if we remember to eat lunch (oh wait, that's not true!)...
what I really mean is that sometimes we're too busy to eat lunch! 
We have black circles under our eyes until November.
We lose our voices,  and
we're a tiny bit cranky because we're sleep deprived.

Back to School is the BEST! 
Is it a bit stressful? 
Are we basically walking zombies?
Is it all worth it?
You bet! 

No surprise that the new crayons and perfectly sharpened pencils get me super
pumped up for the school year!   

I mean look at those colorful things! 
How can you not get excited about new crayons?!
(and no judgement if you secretly like the smell of a freshly opened box!)

Of course I have admit that my favorite part of Back to School is
reconnecting with past students
 meeting my new 5 year olds!

They're  excited! 
I'm so excited!
We're all excited!
Really, we have the BEST jobs in the world.
I mean how lucky am I that I get to hang out
with 5 year olds all day?!
It doesn't get better than that!

Since we're all excited, lets keep it going! 
MR. SKETCH MARKERS (aka smelly markers)!!
We all LOVE them!
Wouldn't it be fun if we gave all of our students their very own to take home?!
Or to use in the classroom?!
Umm yes, we should totally do that! 

You can grab these FREE tags in my TPT store. They are editable too, so you can add your teacher name at the bottom! Click on the image below to grab them now!

I hope that these FREE tags will help make your Back to School time less stressful and MORE  enjoyable! Don't forget to take time for yourself!
 You deserve it and your students deserve the best version of you!
Oh and can someone please remind me of this in about 3 weeks?!
Thanks :)
Enjoy your last weeks of summer and get ready for the best school year yet! 

July 10, 2016

Summer Field Trip

Hi Friends!
Today I'm sharing about the Summer Field Trip that I set up this year with my students!

I don't know about you but at the end of every school year, I become broken hearted. The thought of not seeing my kids until the following school year is just too much to handle. This past school year I was really struggling because this was my first group of All-Day, Every-Day Kindergarteners. I grew even more attached to my students because we were together five, full days a week. I just knew I couldn't make it through the whole summer without them! I came up with the idea of having a summer field trip but was nervous that they wouldn't be interested. I mentioned to my students during the last week of school about getting together over the summer to watch the movie Finding Dory! They were ecstatic, and I knew I had to make it happen! 

The first step in setting this up was determining the location. We are so lucky to have The Strand, a local theater that is right in our downtown area! My students all go there with their families, so I knew it was the perfect spot! 

It's an old, renovated theater that just had it's 100th birthday this year! 

I contacted the theater to get the showtimes and dates for the movie.
I chose an evening showtime  because I knew the afternoon would limit the number of students able to come due to family work schedules. We settled on a 7:00 P.M. showtime on a Thursday.

I whipped up invitations on my computer and sent it out through the Bloomz App!

Planning the Field Trip was a breeze because I was able to communicate quickly with parents! They were able to RSVP in the comments! Easy Peasy!

When the day of the movie finally arrived, it was literally like Christmas! I was soooo excited to see my kinder friends!

I even found some adorable Finding Dory pencils in the Target Dollar Spot for little party favors! 

When I arrived at the theater is couldn't believe how many of students actually showed up! I was greeted with squeals of "Mrs. Masters!!" and hugs upon hugs. 
My heart was full. 
We were reunited at last!

My students came with their families and paid their own way in.
We sat together, had popcorn, and CANDY!
It was so much fun!

By far the BEST day of my summer! 
In fact, I got so caught up in the excitement, that I when I left I discovered 
these were all still in my purse...

Oh well! 
We still had an amazing time! Do you take any summer field trips with your students?! If not, definitely consider it! :) 
Thanks so much for stopping by! 
Have a great week!

March 23, 2016

Birthday Shenanigans Teacher Style!

Hi Friends! 
Thanks so much for stopping by! I am so excited to share some birthday shenanigans with you today! 
Monday was my 28th birthday and we had a birthday party in the classroom!
Say what?!
You seriously threw yourself a birthday party?

Ummm Yes, I did...again.
 And it was amazing. Again.
I love birthdays. 
Kindergarteners love birthdays. 
Why wouldn't you throw yourself a birthday?! 

It all began last year...
The month of March rolled around and we started talking about March birthdays. I shared that my birthday was during the month, and a little girl ever so sweetly asked, "Mrs. Masters, can we come to your birthday party?!" 
I mean how could I say no?

Operation birthday party was underway. 

This year was the second annual Mrs. Masters B-Day Celebration and I knew I wanted it be be even better than last year! 

A common phrase I use in our classroom is, "oh wow, you're ROCKIN' it today!!" I mean I use "ROCKIN'" for everything, so it only made sense to have a ROCKSTAR themed party this year! 

I sent these invitations home with my kids on Friday so that they could get excited ALL weekend long!

I spent my weekend preparing all of the favors and games for the festivities!
I am so fortunate that Mr. Masters took the day off to help with the classroom setup and spend the day with my students and I!
He is simply the best!

We arrived at school early to get the balloons blown up, streamers hung, table decorated and the favors out and ready.

I mean does that not just scream pure happiness?! :)

I knew the day was going to be a little different, so I felt that it was important to "somewhat" maintain our routine to keep things from getting too cray-cray!
During our morning meeting I handed out the VIP passes and sunglasses so that students could enjoy them during their literacy stations.
I mean everyone knows that stations are way cooler when you're a rockstar!

My students chose which color lanyard and sunglasses they wanted but knew that if one color ran out they would have to pick another.

We conducted our regular literacy station in the morning except that Mr. Masters ran our "project" station. He helped students decorate their microphones!!

I LOVE how these turned out! 

After lunch and recess we played some fun, yet educational games! We began by playing musical chairs. I began by placing 15 chairs on the carpet.  This meant that several friends were going to be "out" very quickly. Every time we removed some chairs, we had to write the number sentence to match.

This was a great way for us to practice our subtraction skills. The students who were out of the game wrote the number sentences on their white boards and cheered on their peers!

We've talked about sportsmanship quite a few times, so I was happy to see that it carried over to the game.

After a couple of rounds of musical chairs, we moved into the egg and spoon game. I chose this game because it easy prep, fun and I knew I could put a learning twist on easily!
Oh and because it's almost Easter!

I randomly split my students into two teams for a relay type game. Each student had to walk from one side of the room to the other while balancing the egg on the spoon. If they dropped it, they had to return and try again. Once the students reached me, they had to read a sight word and then return to hand off the spoon to the next person in line.
This game was a HIT!!

The final "game" was a scavenger hunt! 
We had to go around the school and solve the secret message to find out what our last BIG surprise was going to be. 

Students had a recording sheet that had all of the pictures and they had to write the letters in the correct space to figure out the message.
They LOVED walking through the school with their VIP passes and shades :) and of course finding the letters too!

Obviously, I had a great time too!!

The excitement when they were starting to figure out the message was just priceless!


Mr. Masters read us a story after our sugar rush :)
He's an old pro now!

We also spent some time just rocking out with our new microphones
to some of our favorite Kidz Bop songs!

We wrapped up the day with a little bit of writing about our favorite part of the day!

We had such a great day together! The BEST part of the day was just seeing the excitement and joy in my students! My hope is that this day becomes a school memory that they never forget!

After all, school is cool!

If you want to throw your own Rockstar birthday party, pick up the editable
party pack in my TPT store!

Thanks so much for checking out our special day!
Have an awesome week and don't forget to BE fabulous!