Classroom Solutions > 76 posts categorized "1-2"

October Read-Alouds: Literacy Fun With Pumpkins, Leaves, and Bats

Pumpkin patch Depending on where you live, you may have recently noticed a chill in the air, and the leaves may be turning from green to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. While many of your students may be focusing on how much candy they will receive trick-or-treating at the end of month, here are three of my favorite read-aloud books with accompanying activities that won’t require a trip to the dentist.

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Art and Poetry Through the Year: Notebooks and Keepsakes for Your Students

How Do You Do

Students in 1st grade need to have many experiences in language arts to become independent readers and writers. Shared reading is a great way for students to “play” with language to become fluent readers. Fluency is further developed when children have ample opportunities to read text that is familiar and easy for them. In my class, we love to use poetry to build our fluency. Read on to find out more about our poetry notebooks and our yearlong poetry keepsake project.

 

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Take-Home Reading

Child readingTake-Home Reading is a special program for 1st grade that helps each and every child become a better reader. Learning to read takes a lot of practice, and I expect my students to read at home. In just twenty minutes per day, parents and family members help their 1st graders by listening to them read.

Read on to learn more about Take-Home Reading programs and to find out how to set one up in your classroom. 

 

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Comments: 2

Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Current Events in the Classroom

Reading News on the SubwayOne of my personal goals this year is to read the newspaper every single day, regardless of how many student essays I need to read or how crazy my morning commute. I want to be aware of the world around me, and I am committed to living a more news-literate life. I bought a newspaper subscription for my Kindle, and at the very least, I am going to read the news while I take the subway to and from school.

While working on myself, I also consider my students’ current events literacy. I want to help my students to become informed young citizens and lifelong news readers. However, finding time for current events during our jam-packed school day has always posed a challenge. In this post, I'll share some of the solutions I've found. However, my current events curriculum is very much a work in progress, so I would love to hear how you cover world events in your classroom. 

Photo: One of my students reading a newspaper on the subway during a field trip. I need to learn from her!

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Organizing the Classroom Library

BookshelfDo you love children’s literature? I do, and I share this love of books with my students. I display books throughout the entire classroom. Star author books line the chalkboard ledge, weekly read-aloud books are displayed around the easel, and favorite titles and themes are arranged in baskets on the bookshelves. I strive to create a classroom library that is both organized and enticing for my young readers. This week, I will provide a look at the features of our classroom library.

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Comments: 4

Organizing my Classroom Library: The Never-Ending Story

Library OverviewAs I set up my classroom this year, I was so proud of myself. I had carefully organized when I packed up my room in June, so my room looked “livable” in just a few hours this fall. “Wow, this is smooth sailing,” I thought smugly. Then I approached my classroom library, and I didn’t emerge until 8:30 p.m.! 

The hours disappeared as I labeled book baskets, leveled new books, culled through my collection, and planned new library routines. This was certainly time well spent, but I have to tell you, sometimes my “librarian hat” feels heavier than my “teacher hat.” That said, I feel that much of my success as a reading teacher can be attributed to my classroom library. Join me on a photo tour of my classroom library, as I reflect on my organization systems and what works for me.


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Comments: 1

Tips For A Great Back-to-School Night Presentation

School 2 Back-to-School Night is one of the first events on the school calendar. It is an evening where parents come to school to find out specific information about the grade-level curriculum, classroom rules and policies, year-long goals, special events, and the teacher’s philosophy. For most teachers, Back-to-School Night can be stressful. Carefully organized planning will allow you to feel confident and to convey a great first impression. Read on for tips to make your Back-to-School Night a success.

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Comments: 2

Poetic Beginnings: Four Poetry Lessons to Get to Know Your Students

Amys PoemMany curriculum guides would have us believe that poetry and April are conjoined twins, never to be parted, but we teachers know better. Poetry is powerful stuff, and cramming it into a single month is unfair to our students and to poetry! In my class, we read, write, and publish poetry throughout the year, and I frontload the first two months of school with even more poetry. We gain deep insights about each other while sharing our poetry, we luxuriate in words, and we celebrate creative risks –- important back-to-school practices. Here are four of my back-to-school poetry lessons that I use to get to really know my students.

 

Amy shares one of her published poems.

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Comments: 4

Simple Ideas for Establishing Classroom Rules and Manners

Rules

What do we want our classroom community to look like? How do we want our classroom community to sound? These two questions begin our group discussion on sharing ideas, making decisions, and solving problems in our classroom. One of the earliest conversations we have focuses on good manners, appropriate voice levels, and classroom rules. This week, I am going to share a few of the books and activities I use to introduce our classroom behavior chart.

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Comments: 6

Celebrating Community Heroes: September 11th in the Elementary Classroom

FDNY Let me be honest with you: Teaching my third graders about September 11th makes me a little uncomfortable. My students weren’t even born in 2001, and this historic tragedy just doesn’t seem all that relevant to their lives. On the other hand, September 11th has become a permanent part of our collective consciousness. As New York City gears up for the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, my students are inevitably curious about it. It wouldn’t be fair to my students if I didn’t help them understand 9/11 in a way that honors their intellectual curiosity, yet is appropriate for their age as well. Thank goodness for the picture book Fireboat by Maira Kalman! Here’s how I use this amazing book to discuss the facts about 9/11 and then shift into a lesson about heroes.

 

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Comments: 8

Getting-To-Know-You Activities: The First Week and Beyond

I Love SchoolThe desks are arranged, favorite books are displayed, math manipulatives are sorted, and lesson plans are being written. It’s time to start building the classroom community. As I write my lesson plans, I include getting-to-know-you activities. These activities provide opportunities for the students to interact positively with one another. The children are eager to make new friends, learn about the classroom environment, and become part of a school family. After all, the classroom will become a home away from home for the next ten months.

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Comments: 2

Read-Alouds to Launch Reader’s Workshop

Reading_on_Rug During the first few weeks of reader’s workshop, the focus is necessarily on introducing routines, building stamina, and exploring the classroom library. At the same time, I need to immerse my students in the culture of reading by getting lost in good books together. There isn’t a moment to waste in initiating my students into our reading cult! How do I accomplish both goals at the same time? I use picture books that celebrate reading as a springboard into our discussions about reader’s workshop routines and expectations. Read on for my favorite picture books about reading and how I use them to launch our reader’s workshop.


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Comments: 4

Back-to-School Read Alouds: Favorite Books and First Week Activities

DSC00282Reading aloud to children is one of my favorite activities of the day and it is a critical part of literacy instruction. In my classroom, I integrate children’s literature across the curriculum and read to the children throughout the day. The read-aloud books I choose for the first week of school help set the tone for the year and help begin to build our classroom community. These books feature characters about the same age as my students and allow us to discuss prior knowledge, build thinking skills, and make connections. Here are some of my favorite books and activities that engage my enthusiastic young readers.

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Comments: 9

My Classroom Management Must-Haves, Part 2: Float Jars and More

Float Jar1Last week, I wrote about the color chart that I use to help my students manage their individual behavior choices. The color chart is my saving grace, but it is not the panacea for all behavior woes. This week, I am going to share some more of my favorite management strategies: The Float Jar, Table Stars, and my Homework Black Book.

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Comments: 4

Meet the Teacher: Ideas for a Successful Open House

Screen shot 2011-08-02 at 3.47.01 PMMany schools offer an open house prior to the start of the school year. On this day parents and students come to the school, tour the classroom, visit with friends, and meet the teacher. The furniture is in place, the classroom is organized, and new friends hop, skip, and jump through the classroom door. Ready or not, here they come!

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Comments: 16

My Classroom Management Must-Haves, Part 1: Color Charts

Jon Color ChartAt the beginning of each school year, I revisit the question that is central to my beliefs about classroom management. How do I structure a classroom environment where my students actively nurture the community because they believe in the importance of co-creating the world in which they want to work and play? Over the years I have experimented with several systems, and I continue to grow and refine my management style. However, I’ve stumbled upon some keepers that I use from year to year. This week I am going to share one of my go-to management strategies, The Color Chart.

 

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Comments: 15

Classroom Setup: Arranging the Physical Space

classroom setuupIt won’t be long until summer is behind us and we are back at school. I’ve spent hours imagining the perfect classroom setup, and in about three weeks, it will be time to transform my thoughts into reality. Experience has taught me that details matter. How quickly I am reminded of the sheer exhaustion of classroom setup when I see furniture piled high, boxes stacked one on top of another, and closets packed full of materials. The classroom space is clean, fresh, and anything but organized! I begin my classroom setup wisely by reflecting on student learning and my teaching practices.

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Comments: 38

What’s in a Name? A Back-to-School Literacy Unit

NametagDuring the first few weeks of school, I always find it challenging to come up with a meaningful unit of study so that my students can feel as though they are accomplishing something beyond learning a bunch of routines. There’s the obvious imperative to build our classroom community. On top of that, the empty bulletin boards in the classroom are glaring at us, demanding student work so our classroom can begin to look “lived in.”

Last year, I had wonderful results using a name unit as our first shared literacy experience. Read on to find out what my students did. (This post includes a list of read-alouds and graphic organizers to support the unit.)

 

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Comments: 7

Welcome to Michelle Sullenberger's Classroom

Teaching 1st grade is a joy! Each day, children who are full of energy walk through my classroom door eager to learn. They gather around my table to read books, share desk space to interact with manipulatives and laptops, and sit with a shoulder buddy to read from favorite books and poetry journals. My young students learn how to work independently, with a partner, and in small groups to share their discussions and good thinking with one another beginning on the first day of school. Our learning environment is a happy, bright, safe place where all students are encouraged to use their imaginations, make connections, and solve problems. My name is Michelle Sullenberger, and welcome to my 1st grade classroom.

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Comments: 4

Director's Edit: Final Thoughts on the Year

Vasicek BrainThis is my farewell post. Before getting to the content, I'd like to thank Scholastic for allowing me the opportunity to share the magic that occurs behind the scenes in a classroom. I'd like to thank Special Days Camp, the students of Studio 24, and the Integrity Bros. for the continued inspiration and ideas. I'd like to thank any teacher, friend, student, family member, colleague, reader, or human that ever sparked an idea in my mind. From John Medina to Spencer Kagan, and from the author of The Hunger Games series to the inventor of spray paint, I thank you for your contribution to my classroom. Lastly, I'd like to thank you, my faithful readers. Your overwhelmingly positive comments, emails, and suggestions have made me a better teacher.

Although I could write at length about the value of all of the ideas that follow, the time is short. So the CliffsNotes version appears below. Here are a last few gems, for seasoned teachers or rookies, on which you can meditate this summer.

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Comments: 2

Final Thoughts

NJang052611_iStock_000011161816BoyThanksI can't believe that this year has literally flown by and that I am posting my last blog post here. I want to share some of my personal reflections about blogging for Scholastic and how it has changed me as a teacher. I also want to thank everyone for all of their support!

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Comments: 2

Celebrate Writing and Young Authors!

DSC00722Every day in my classroom students spend time writing, either by themselves or with partners. Some students illustrate books while others peer edit or meet with me. Every week, we have Writers Workshop in our classroom, and when a student has a completed book, they present it at Author's Chair. I am pleased to share with you a fun Author's Chair video featuring several of my students. Enjoy!

Giveaway winners announced at the end of this post!

 

 

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Comments: 62

End-of-the-Year Reflections

DSC00135As the school year draws to a close, I begin reflecting back on everything that's happened. What were the challenges this year? What could I have done differently? Join me as I answer these questions and more. You can also watch a cute video of a few of my students reflecting on their 2nd grade year.

 

 

 

 

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Comments: 12

Common Core State Standards

MBlow0510_iStock000012975998_tortoisehareThroughout my career, I have done extensive research on world folklore. Aesop, the father of fables, has blessed us with an infamous fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” cautioning against hurrying to reach a goal and suggesting that the slow and steady will win the race. I cling to the wisdom of this fable as we begin our journey toward educational reform. 

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

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Comments: 4

Planning for the End of the Year

DSC00606Mother's Day and Father's Day are around the corner, and for some teachers, testing is over.  You're working on assessments, report cards, and cleaning up. The students are hyper, happy, and having a hard time focusing on classwork. The yearbooks are ready, and summer is in the air. Now is the time to prepare for the end of the year, to reflect back on the year that's ending, and to plan for next year. Read on to get some great ideas and printables for Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the end of the year.

 


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Comments: 1

What We'll Do Differently Next Year

DSC01483 One of the greatest things about being teachers is that at the end of each year we can evaluate our past teaching experiences, change what didn't work, and plan new strategies with the hope of perfecting our practice. Even after sixteen years of teaching, I find that every June I ponder the passing year and decide what to get rid of, what to work on, and how to change curriculum and instruction so that come September, my classroom runs more smoothly.

I did an informal survey of teachers in my district and teaching friends across the nation, asking them, "What will you do differently next year?" Responses ranged from working on classroom management and time management to creating projects that tap into higher order thinking skills.

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Comments: 2

Open House, Mother's Day, and Father's Day, OH MY!

DSC00571 The end of the school year is around the corner, and there are still so many events to prepare for. In our school district, we have state testing the first two weeks in May. So the next month or so will be spent preparing for the state test as well as wrapping up the school year with Open House. Read on to find great crafty ideas for Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts as well as instructions for creating an easy Open House slide show.

 

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Comments: 3

Celebrating Eric Carle and The Tiny Seed

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One of my favorite children's book authors and illustrators is Eric Carle. He is one of our classroom favorites as well. A while back, I even had the pleasure of hearing him read The Very Hungry Caterpillar LIVE at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Read on to get some fabulous resources for The Tiny Seed, watch a book trailer featuring Eric Carle, and listen to our Tiny Seed podcast!

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Paying It Forward

ParentteacherWhen I attend a conference, my goal is to come away with techniques, ideas, or information that will improve my teaching, and my greatest hope is to leave inspired. This year at the Computer-Using Educators conference, both my goal and my hope were realized. Today I want to introduce one of the people who made this happen last week. He's amazing both in how he uses technology in his classroom, and also in who he is as a person and as a teacher. He is one of the people that I aspire to be more like. His name is Brent Coley, and I'm honored to have him write a guest post for this blog.

 


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Comments: 4

Cool Web Tools for Teachers and Kids! Part Two

NJang_0323111_iStock_000001186054_Websurfing
Last week at the Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs I saw a ton of great presentations. This week I am excited to share what I learned during a great presentation called "Extreme Makeover: Web Site Edition" by Brent Coley, a 5th grade teacher in Murietta, California.  Read on for ten great suggestions for making your Web site interactive, informative, and useful with FREE, easy-to-use apps!

 

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Comments: 9

Cool Web Tools for Teachers and Kids! Part One

DSC00459
I just came home from a fantastic technology conference in Palm Springs called Computer-Using Educators, or CUE, and my head is about to explode (in a good way). I would love to share some of these fantastic cool tools and apps with you. If you ever do any projects online or offline, have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, or are just a tech geek like me, hold on to your heads for some AMAZING tools that you can use right away, to make teaching easier in almost any grade level or to make your life easier at home. Special thanks to all the presenters at CUE for inspiring others to bring tech into their classrooms! Read on to check out some super amazing techy things to do with your class and some cool apps for you!

 

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Comments: 2

National Children's Nutrition Month!

IStock_10272719S_boyeatingapple

March is National Children's Nutrition Month! This is a great opportunity for you to help your kids learn to make healthy choices about food and exercise. Read on to learn about creating a Healthy Choices Unit in your classroom or school and to peek into my school as we celebrate Healthy Choices Week.

GIVEAWAY WINNER ANNOUNCED AT THE END OF THIS BLOG POST!

 

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Comments: 52

Preparing for High Stakes State Testing

NJang0310iStock_000012973521_Test

In California, we do our state testing in May, but we begin reviewing and planning for it now. Second grade is the youngest grade to take state tests in California, and we take it very seriously. I hope that you will find some helpful testing tips for students and teachers in this post.

 

 

Photo Credit: Blueberries/iStockphoto

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Celebrate Reading With Dr. Seuss

DSC00415Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday are great reasons to celebrate reading. In the primary grades, we are all learning to read and love Dr. Seuss's colorful, wacky rhymes and imaginative illustrations. I have compiled tons of great articles, resources, and ideas to help you celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading. Go grab a book and join my class as we celebrate reading and Dr. Seuss all week long.

 

 

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Comments: 6

Making the Most of Your School Computer Lab

BoywithComputers   Credit: netbritish/Shutterstock

Teaching today has its challenges, especially if you're not comfortable teaching computer and information technology skills. Our students have never known a world without the Internet, computers, cell phones, and Xboxes. They were born into a world of technology and take to it like ducks to water. You can make going to the computer lab a weekly occurrence even if your district doesn't have a computer teacher to man it. Read on for some helpful hints on how to make the most of your computer lab visits.

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Comments: 4

Reading Month

DSC01095March is reading month. Each year our school tries to come up with a theme and activities to help promote the vital skill of reading. It can be tough to keep the ideas fresh, so I thought I would share the latest ideas from Miami Elementary here in good ole Clinton Township, Michigan.

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Comments: 20

Classroom Management: Tips to Make Your Class Minutes Count

DSC00410I love teaching, and I love teaching even more when I can maximize my academic minutes and minimize interruptions and distractions. When I was a new teacher, I can't tell you how many minutes were wasted every day because of children arguing over "cutting" in line or seats for read-aloud. Kids missed precious class time during trips to the restroom, where they played in the stalls and flooded the bathroom. Incomplete homework was another recurring problem. Many of the kids who didn't turn in their homework suffered from an overloaded social calendar, travelling between spilt parents, or had parents who were not able to speak English. I was at my wit's end. What could I do to solve these problems? Read on to find out!


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Comments: 2

Valentine's Day

GirlHoldingRedHeart_NJ_021011
Making and giving out cards to classmates, eating conversation hearts, and decorating in pink and red are all fun Valentine's Day activities. But don't let this holiday go by without sneaking in a little bit of curriculum, too. Join me as I peek into some of the other classrooms at my school to show you some great ways of squeezing some extra learning into all of the Valentine's Day festivities.

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Comments: 10

Celebrating the Hundredth Day of School

100th wormHAPPY HUNDREDTH DAY OF SCHOOL!

The hundredth day of school is a HUGE DEAL in the primary grades. But even though the celebrations may take place in primary grades, upper grades can join in the fun, too. Any holiday where you can have fun and encourage learning in creative ways is worth celebrating. So join my class and my school as I share 50 ways to celebrate 100 days of school!

 

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Comments: 4

Emergency Sub Plans

Emergency R KrishnanScar sings it in The Lion King and Boy Scouts repeat it ad nauseam. What is this magical phrase that I am referring to? Be prepared! Being prepared with meaningful sub plans can keep your classroom community on a forward-moving track when your personal life throws you a curve ball.

 

Photo courtesy of Renjith Krishnan.

 

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Comments: 7

Happy Chinese New Year!

DSC00398Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year! The new Chinese year, the Year of the Rabbit, begins on February 3, 2011. Chinese New Year is a holiday near and dear to my heart because it was a fun, festive, and grand celebration during my childhood years. Come celebrate this special day with me and my class.

Read on to check out my unit on the Chinese New Year and grab a few free printables to use in your classroom.

 

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Comments: 8

Why You Should Become a National Board Certified Teacher

DSC01296Teachers understand that being a lifelong learner is a core responsibility of their profession. Professional development opportunities abound for teachers, some of it very good and some of it, well, not so good. Of all the professional development activities that I have taken part in during my sixteen-year teaching career, the most powerful, rewarding, and informative one was applying for and receiving National Board Teacher Certification (NBTC). It was also the most difficult and challenging one, but in the end, the process greatly informed my practice, and I truly believe it made me a better teacher.

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Comments: 2

Heroes

MLK speech pic In California, studying famous people and heroes is a 2nd grade social studies standard. In my class, we begin our studies with Martin Luther King, Jr., and then move on to President Lincoln and President Washington.

After watching short videos and reading nonfiction books, we create projects together in class. Then, having learned about each of these men, we compare them and discuss why they are considered heroes. We also talk about the difference between a hero and someone who is merely famous.

Read on to learn more about our unit on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and heroes.

 

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Comments: 9

Mr. Vasicek's Classroom Music Playlist

Music 3 renjith KrishnanAfter reading my post "Music to Manage Your Classroom," some of you wanted to know some good tunes to play in your classroom. Grab your iTunes gift card and get ready to download some of the songs I use regularly in my classroom. Enjoy!

 

Photo courtesy of Rinjith Krishnan.

 

 

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Comments: 15

Organizing and Reorganizing Your Classroom

Photo_19322_20100731Teachers have a LOT of stuff. Especially primary grade teachers and pack rats. I am both. And I am not a naturally organized person. I have to really work to keep things where I can find them. I stalk organizational blogs, look into other people's classrooms for ideas, and buy tons of gadgets and sorters. Nevertheless, it's a daily battle to keep my life from becoming the next episode of Hoarders. Here is the 12 step program that I invented to keep myself organized.

Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut.

 

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Comments: 14

Music to Manage Your Classroom

Music Renjith Krishnan

So, you are making dinner in the kitchen while the television runs in the living room. You have completely lost track of time. All of sudden, without even looking at the clock, you realize it is 6:00 and the news is starting.  What gave you this great epiphany? Was it your radio alarm clock? Or is your internal clock that precise?  My guess is that the news program theme music triggered a brain cell that alerted you that it was 6:00.

Music is a powerful tool, one that can tell you it's time to watch the news — or help you manage your classroom.  

Images courtesy Renjith Krishnan.

 

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Comments: 2

Everything I Need to Know About Teaching, I Learned From 2nd Grade

Christmas postcard
 
As I enjoy the relaxing sounds of Christmas music, a crackling fire in the fireplace, and the view of a twinkling Christmas tree, I am thankful that I have a wonderful job that I love and the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you here on the Classroom Solutions blog. This week, I'm making a short list of New Year's resolutions and reflecting back on my experiences, and I'm pleased to be able to share my reflections with you.

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Comments: 1

Spending Educational Minutes Wisely

 

 

ClockWhen Paul Revere needed a job, he competed with the boys in his village. When I needed a job, I competed with the people in the metro-Detroit area. When our students need jobs, they will be competing globally. In the past we didn't need to care how other countries were preparing their children. Now it is essential.

Photo courtesy of healingdream on freedigitalphotos.net.

 

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Celebrating and Learning About December Holidays, Part 3 — Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa family

What is Kwanzaa? It is a celebration of African heritage in America. There are many symbols and traditions associated with Kwanzaa that honor African heritage. Join me as we learn more about this December holiday.

 

 

 

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Comments: 3

Similes, Metaphors, and Seuss

 

 

Grinch

Dr. Seuss is a god [metaphor] when it comes to using metaphors to address complicated adults issues in fun, childlike rhymes. He is like an artist with an unending palette of colors [simile].

I often turn to Dr. Seuss to spice up my lessons on similes and metaphors. Below is a holiday lesson that is especially designed for those with an intelligence for music.

 

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.