Moving to new site: Giggles and Chalk

Happy 4th of July!  I just love our country and all of the celebrations associated with the love of the good ole' USA- Souza music, sparklers, picnics, family, baseball, parades, and fireworks (as long as they are done when I hit the bed....!).  My aren't we blessed!

I am redirecting traffic to my new blog:  Giggles and Chalk
Why?  Well, it's a long story......  I am still "Mrs. Gillespie", but my marriage is about to be over and done.  Kaput.  Never in a million years thought that would happen.  Seriously.  But it has.  A few months ago, my husband told me he's always been gay.  Shocked me to the absolute core.  We have 4 children!  He is not willing to try and change, work things out somehow, or have any counseling with that goal.  He has insisted on going our separate ways.  We are working together for our wonderful children and he will support me forever if need be.  Let's face it- teachers just don't make much money!  :)

So, that's why it's time for me to change my blog name.  And web address.  It's just a personal thing and it will help me move on.  God has been incredibly faithful through this past year and I know He has great things in store for me.  I am going to put on my big girl panties, slap on my high heels, and invite great and wonderful things into my life. And God will be with me each step of the way. 

So, go ahead and jump on over to Giggles and Chalk and follow me over there.  Good times, I tell you, good times......!!  :)


Compliment Jar

Creating a sense of community is important in the classroom (and in our individual families).  During the year, I helped foster our classroom community through compliments, having a servant's heart towards helping each other, and writing thank you notes to outside helpers.  

I also wanted to give my students a unique end of the year gift.  Like all of you, I don't have much spare time and couldn't devote the hours to the lovely projects out there in Pinterestland!  I turned to technology and created word shapes filled with the compliments of each other.  

During the last 2 weeks of school, I introduced the Compliment Jar!  Actually it was not a jar, but a lovely empty Kleenex box....!  (I came up with the idea kind've quickly, and grabbed what I could find!!!)  I filled a separate bin with cut up scraps of paper for students to use.  It wasn't fancy, but it was the compliments that counted!  I told my students to think of a fellow student and write down a compliment on a piece of paper and fold it into the box.  They were to include the person's name, but NOT their own name.  It was more fun to be anonymous.  As a bonus, I found out which boy was "cute"!

Then during the last week of school, I led the class into a group compliment session.  I gave each student a paper with their classmate's names and instructed them to write a couple of words to describe that classmate next to the classmate's name.  I helped them a bit, writing some examples onto the board.  I told them they couldn't use the same word for every person...and it had to be encouraging and nice.  :)

After awhile, my students asked if they could include my name on their paper.  That touched my heart!  

I collected papers and the Compliment Jar slips and entered the key character words into a site called "wordle".  The words are saved into practically any shape/color you want.  I printed them, signed my name, the date, and our school's name, and placed them into page protectors.  On the last day of school, I called each student up to give them their gift and compliment them in front of their peers.  It was moving and a gift they will hopefully treasure for years to come.  I know some of the students were going to rush home and frame them!

Here is the my wordle from the student's kind words:

It's in the shape of an apple and I had each student sign it for me.  To make it simple (and to decrease any disappointment in the children), I created every one in the same color palette   I made every girl's into a heart shape and every boy's into the United States.  

Here's a link to try it for yourself: wordle

Children and reading

I've been running through my first year teaching, sprinting to the end, and I am now pausing to catch my breath.  School was out 3 weeks ago and I have packed up my classroom (summer school was NOT an option for me, and my room will be used), remodeled my bedroom and family room, and spent time with my kiddos relaxing at the neighborhood pool.  My youngest talked me into buying a family pass and I now know he is a genius.  Let's see, my children can burn energy and enjoy their childhood while trained professionals keep them from drowning, AND I can bring my ever growing stack of books to leisurely read while I even get some badly needed sun?  :)

Oh yes, children and reading~ why are children not reading?  There is no passion.  There are other things to steal their time and children do not see the value in books.  Yes, there are those rare book addicts, but as a general rule, children read in school to get their grade, get by, and move on.  I want more than that for them.  

At the beginning of the year, I introduced the "book shelf" to my students.  This was a living bulletin board that was to run around the entire perimeter of our room.  The rule was simple: every time a student read a book (anywhere), they were to fill out a "book spine" that included the title of the book and the student's name.  The students were motivated and thrilled.  Their goal was to not only cover our room, but to leak out into the hall, showing the entire school their reading strengths....!  :)

Here is an close up of a section of our book shelf:

My read-alouds to the class were also put up on the wall; the students simply insisted!

As the year progressed, more and more books were read....(including students who were not "officially" in my class, but who were with me for a couple of weeks at a time...they wanted to read and join in the fun!)

Here is where it ended.  We counted over 250 books!  Quite an accomplishment!  Keep in mind, I work in a remedial math and reading school for students who are behind in a normal school setting.  I had a classroom library filled to the brim with over a thousand books, and I created time during the day to simply read.  During independent reading, I let them read anywhere in the room.  I would confer with them about reading, answer questions, and simply let them be.  If we are to teach the importance of reading, yet not allow ample class time to read, what messages are we sending?

Along those lines, I have fallen in love with a new book which is validating my thinking regarding children and reading:

Have you read it?  You must.  It's an easy read.  Curl up on your favorite chair, grab a pencil to mark up all those great points/ideas, and enjoy.  It will inspire you to allow your students to simply read.  Instruct them too, absolutely, but let them choose books and step into the world of adventure.


Valentine's Day rocks

I know I am a day late and a dollar short, but I had GREAT success with my Valentine's Day student gift.  You can use it next year, or for another time (like the end of the year, beginning of the year, etc)

I LOVE Pinterest (you can follow me through my button to your right), because there are SO many valuable hints, ideas, etc from great people!  I saw a pin with a simple rock and 2 googly eyes.  The note included a stamp which said "You Rock".  I thought that was TOO cute!  

Here is my step by step version. 

Materials:  rocks (outside or from a bag)
pink construction paper
note from computer
glue (I used Elmer's) 

I didn't have a stamp, so I created a quick note on the computer.  I added the hearts after I printed it and before I copied it onto pink construction paper:

Here are my rocks.  I had GREAT FUN choosing where to glue the eyeballs.  Hint: choose a fun place like down to one side, etc.  Each rock has it's own personality!

Here is what I gave to my students:

This last one was my favorite.  I kept it.  :)

Needless to say, these were a HUGE hit with not only my class of 3rd and 4th graders, but also to 5th - 8th graders. When I gave some to the older students, their eyes lit up.  I heard thank you many times over.  It's nice to look a student in the face and say, "You Rock!".  That's what I did when I placed one into their hands.  They all beamed in response.  

The eyes stay on pretty good, unless you handle the rock constantly.  I initially tried my hot glue gun, but the eyes peeled off immediately.  Elmer's glue works.  But then, I'm an adult who leaves their rock friends alone.  :)


Preposition FREEBIE

When I was in 4th grade, my teacher MADE us memorize the entire list of prepositions.  I thought she was so mean!  Well guess what?  I still remember them and I happen to also LOVE grammar!  I guess teachers are right after all....  :)

I recently created a preposition list for students and teachers and you can find it here.  It's free and ready for you to download and use!  The link will take you to my little new store on TPT.  Don't you just LOVE that site?  I sure do!


Divisibility Rules

Well, it's my last day off.  Not really, because I have the weekend, but on Monday, it's back to school.  I'm excited, but I do like lounging around with my coffee and slippers in the mornings.

I created a student cheat sheet for divisibility rules today.  You can find it in my TPT (teachers pay teachers) store here.  

I am using student notebooks in math class and this will make a great entry for them.  My students love using their student notebooks to remind them how to complete different math operations.  I happen to be a HUGE believer in anchor charts (documenting learning in general) having a crutch  place to remind yourself how to do things, etc.  The student notebooks came from Runde's Room and you can find it on her TPT page here.  I have tweaked some of the entries to fit the needs of my students, but the product came from her!

Have a great day!  :)

Video of my class