Monday, September 3, 2012

Parent Night Tips

Hi there,

Whew... Parent Night was a success. Have you had yours yet?  If so, how did it go?  Any great ideas to share - just comment below!

 So, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I thought worked.  I am vowing to redo my Parent Night Power Point today with everything fresh in my mind.  Let's see if it happens.  The art teacher and library teacher are both away on a course, so my usually free Friday - will be filled with covering specialist classes.  Do your schools get substitutes for specialist teachers or do you cover your classes?

Before Parent Night (Back to School Night)

Tip # 1 Send home a questionnaire for parents to fill out about their students  
Typically, I have called this "Homework for Parents.  The students love the idea that their parents are getting homework.  Send it home at the end of the first week of school and it will set the tone that you really want to get to know their children as individuals.  It also helps reduce parents urge to talk to you about their children on the night.  It sends the message to your students' parents' that their opinion is important to you.

Tip #2 Have student work hanging up
Have Parent Night in mind when you are planning the first week of school.  Think about the work that you will be able to display.  For example When we learned about our classroom jobs, I had the students illustrate mind maps of the class job descriptions.  I also had them illustrate "Who We Are In Numbers".  The students illustrated things like their age, their phone number, their height and their address.

Chevron banners are from Schoolgirl Style - Primary Apple Theme

Tip#3 Have the students write their parents a letter to leave on their desk for when the parents arrive
Parents love getting this letter and they also go home and tell their parents that the letter is waiting for them at school.  I had one mom who had completely forgotten about Parent Night, and was reminded by her son who bounded through the door saying mom you have to go to school tonight to get the letter I wrote to you.

Tip # 4 Set everything up before you go home
It does not look good if parents arrive and you are unorganized.

During Parent Night 

Tip # 5 Have a blank sheet of paper for the parents to respond to their child's letter 

Tip # 6 Use a Keynote or Powerpoint Presentation 
It will help you keep to the main points, keep you on time, and if you don't get to everything you can share it with others.  I love the book Presentation Zen... their advice?  Not more than 6 words on a slide.  Just a title and a great image.  Good advice.

Other ideas:

  • Have an ice breaker to get the parents to know each other
  • Provide a provocation for the parents by having items that represent some of the main topics their students will learn about for the year.  
Do you have tips for Parent Night?  I would love to hear from you.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teaching In Thailand/Parent Night Powerpoint

Where I teach Wednesday

I had to join up with Blog Hoppin' for 'Where I teach Wednesday'.  Previously, I had a request from a reader to write about what it is like teaching at an International School in Thailand.  So, I guess now is the time!  I am just sorry I took so long.

Biking through the rice fields.
Teaching internationally is wonderful.  I am a traveler at heart and it suits me perfectly.  Working in international schools, I have found that the teachers both work hard, but also play hard.  We have more vacations typically than when I taught in the US, with a vacation of 10+ days in October, 3 weeks at Christmas, and 2 weeks in April as well as 6-7 weeks in the summer. (We still do teach 180 days though!)  So, that affords us with lots of opportunities to travel.  So far, we travelled to some of the islands of Thailand, gone to Bali, and made it to either Ireland or the US each summer.

Mt. Batur, Bali, Indonesia
Thailand is a beautiful country.  We live and work in Chiang Mai, which is surrounded by both mountains and forests.  Our school is located outside of the city in a beautiful wooded setting.  One thing you might find the most interesting, is that we live on campus at the school.  On campus there is a hotel,  a spa, two restaurants and a cafeteria.  We also have a farm, a cooking school, tennis courts, a workout room, daily yoga and a driving range on campus.  However, one of the best things is that our children get to go to the school for free.

My daughter feeding the rabbits at the farm.
Making curry paste
My husband and I taking cooking lessons at the cooking school.
So, we're in the middle of our 2nd week of school already.  How about you?  Have you started school?

Our Back to School Night, or Parent Night, is tomorrow.  I thought I would share one of my previous Parent Night Power Points with all of you.  I am sure most of you are more creative than this, but it might spark some ideas or help at least one busy teacher out there work smarter and not harder. I took out all the personal information and all of the clipart, as I don't have time to find out if I have all free images.  However, here is an outline for you and you should be able to edit it and make it your own.  Unfortunately in the conversion to a google doc - the font and format have changed.  

I am looking forward to reading all of your posts!  If you want to know more about teaching internationally and how you can do it too, just leave a comment.

CLICK ON THIS LINK - Parent Night Power Point Outline


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Hey Everyone,

Awards!  I love awards.  Don't you?  I am so thrilled to announce that I received two awards from Nicole from Rowdy in Room 300 the Versatile Blogger Award and the One Lovely Blog Award.  Thank you so much Nicole!  You're the best. :-)  Her blog is great and she has a great TpT store that I follow.

In my next blog post, I will highlight 15 new blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award. Would you like to be on that list?  See below and leave me a comment.

For now, here are my nominations!

The rules for this award are as follows:
  • 1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you - Thank you Nicole!! 
  • 2.  Include a link to their site 
  • 3.  Include the award image in your post 
  • 4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself - Just scroll down :)
  • 5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award -  
    • Scroll down a little further...
  • 6.  When nominating, include a link to their site
  • 7.  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated  

7 Random Facts about me...
  • 1. I have lived on 4 different continents.
  • 2. I love to try to learn to speak different languages.
  • 3. I also teach yoga and meditation.
  • 4. I am currently watching 'Downton Abbey'.
  • 5.  I love to travel to remote places.
  • 6. I am addicted to buying Kindle books. 
  • 7. I will spend the next month in Ireland. 
My nominations:
Ladybug's Teacher Files 
Kristen has a ton of freebies and great tutorials.  I visit her site daily!!!  She teaches ESLin Grade 4/5, but I have found almost all of it useful in my 2nd Grade Class.  I use her Word Dectectives book this year and my kiddos loved it. 


Check out Traci's year long planner - amazing!

I love their freebies.  

She has made free fonts!  She is at 299 Followers and is hoping to get to 300. 

Mechele has great ideas. Maybe you'll be interested in her postcard exchange.

I used Ms. Durning's Bee Binder Idea with huge success!

 I love Natasha and Leigh's spelling inquiry cycle!

Check out her Writer's Workshop Freebie!

I read The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark as a result of one of Monica's posts.

I follow Tammy's TpT store.  She makes great printables.

I just found this blog and love it.  Erin does amazing things!

 Kylie definitely deserves the Versatile Blogger Award.  Visit her blog to see why!

This was one of the very first blogs I found and it got me hooked!

Many of my nominees may have already been nominated for these awards as they are such outstanding blogs.  

Calling all new bloggers...  Do you have a new blog?  I am looking for 15 new blogs to nominate for the One Lovely Blog Award.  If you are currently a blogger with a 150 or fewer followers that would like to grow your following with me... let's join up!  Leave me a comment and I will highlight you in my next post!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fabulous Find Friday Linky Party


Hey there! 

I have a new linky party for you to check out.  Fabulous Find Friday with Elizabeth from Fun in 4B.  Join in the fun.  I'd love to see what your fabulous find is!  It is always fun for me to see if I can find things here in Thailand that I have seen on blogs from other parts of the world.  I am super surprised that the pencil sharpener in my classroom is the exact one that everyone is raving about here.

Choosing my 'fabulous find' proved a bit difficult, as my classroom is packed and dismantled.  So, I thought what was the last thing I bought that I was excited about.  I can't say that my find is all that fabulous, but some of you may appreciate it! 

Post-it Tabs I found on sale at Kad Suan Kaew (Central)

TABS!  I love tabbing my teacher resource books.  Does anyone else do this?  (Yes, the tabs are color-coded to match the content!) I went to an Everyday Math Training in a previous district (when I taught in the US) and they had us tab our EDM Teacher's Guides.  I have been doing it ever since.  My only lament is that they don't have a blue tab!  I also included the tabs I bought to tab my tab my hanging files when I return to the classroom in August.  I really dislike the tabs that come with the file folders and look forward to using these as an excuse to rename and organize my files. 

While thinking about what kind of Fabulous Find I would write about I couldn't help to think about my First Steps resource books.  It is a resource out of Australia that is really fabulous.  Does anyone else use this resource?  If so, I would love to hear from you. I'll be training our teaching staff when we return in August. 

So, what is your fabulous find? 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Improving The Quality of Student Work Through Reflection

 Dear Teaching Friends,

School's out and a lot of us can finally get back to blogging.  Yay!  I am looking forward to time spent blog-stalking.  Leave me a comment and I'll stop by your blog! 

Teaching Blog Traffic School
I just joined Teaching Blog Traffic School, have you?  It looks like a great way to connect with other teacher bloggers.  Have a look here at TBTS.

Summer goals...  do you have them?  Are they too many to count?  One of mine is organizing my teaching files on my computer.  How do you organize your files?  By year?  By grade taught?  By subject?  I have tried many different ways and now I need to consolidate.  In the process, I thought I could share some of the things I have made over the years that you might like to use with your students.

By now, you may have realized that I love rubrics and self-assessments. Is anyone else like me in this regard?  I like creating forms, using forms, manipulating forms and coupled with my love of assessment, means that I have a lot of those to share.   (Well after 16 years of teaching, I should have, shouldn't I?)  Here's one...

So, this is a rubric I used when I taught 1st grade, although it could be used for any grade.  My students were incredibly obsessed with being the first one done with assignments, sacrificing understanding and satisfaction of a job well done for timeliness.  Sound familiar?  So, to get the students to slow down, start thinking about, and evaluating their own work I would have them reflect on the quality their work and understanding, and highlight this rubric accordingly.  I would photocopy two rubrics per page, cut them in half and then after filling them out, the students would staple them to their work.  Then I would look it over and give my opinion, only after they had given theirs.

The Results
Children can be incredibly accurate and I always find it better to have students evaluate their own work first.  Students learned quickly that I valued quality or quantity, that they could let me know they didn't understand something, and that honestly looking at their work helped them to know what they needed to do better.  I firmly believe in having high expectations for students and that it is okay to help them see when their work could be improved. 

Work was collected for the week and then evaluated on Friday morning when the students would sort through their work and reflect on the quality of it.  They sorted their work into two piles.  One pile for Portfolio Worthy work and one pile to go in their Friday Take Home folder.  I had a set of cubbies (see the photo above) and I assigned one to each student. The Friday Take Home folders also remained here. The cubby held finished work.  Unfinished work stayed in a color-coded folder for each subject in their desk.  One aspect that I really liked is that I never had to worry about no-name papers and at any time and I could look over what each student had completed that day or that week at any time without rummaging through their desks.  However, most importantly, I saw a difference in the quality of work and thinking that went into their assignments. 

Changing Times - Sustainability
It is funny to think how times have changed over the years.  I now am very conscientious about the amount of paper I use.  If I were to do this again, I might have one copy laminated for each student and taped on their desk to refer to as they evaluate their assignments. 

Can any of you use this?  Do any of you do something similar?  I'd love to hear from you.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Skypin' with Phil the Poet (+a freebie, you know it!)

Hi there,

So, I fell off the blogging bandwagon. 

Spring break spent in Bali sent me on holiday,
Planning for the end-of-the year neared,
Then a loss of electricity hit my small city,
Finally report card writing commenced.
And boy, how my life did get tensed. 

Okay, so I am a bit of a goof-ball and definitely not a poet.  But my class did get to skype with one on Monday.  How cool, right?  His name is Phil Bolsta and he wrote 5 children’s poems that were published in the book, Kid’s Pick The Funniest Poems.  He told them his was in goof-ball mode with his daughter when he wrote the poems and suddenly I have been in goof-ball mode ever since. You can read about the book on Phil’s blog, here.  

My kids loved his poems and it was so fun for them to meet the author.  He actually had a book published this week.  However, they were very serious as they interviewed him. The best part had to be when he surprised them by reading their What Am I? Poems.  (Hear excited voices calling softly... "Oh, that's mine." and  "I wrote that!")  Then of course my students made him guess.  He did a very good job and was so good natured with the kids.  

So, I am just curious...  What gets you in goofball mode?  What takes you away from blogging?  Are you a poet? Have you used Skype in the classroom? Want to get our classes together for a Skype?  

Could it also be that report card writing is making me a little slaphappy?  Quite possibly…  So, I have a freebie for you, but I must admit – it’s terrible.  I am sure it could be better.  But, I have found that the better I conduct my assessment, the easier my job is at writing report card comments.  So, instead of waiting until I perfect this document, I thought I would share it as is in hopes that you maybe helpful to at least one person out there struggling to create a writing assessment.  I created this document in pages and then uploaded to google docs.  Let me know how it views.  

Maybe you all have it figured out and have the perfect assessment/reporting method.  If you do, I'd love to hear from you.  J 

So, without further ado, here are is an assessment sheet for you.  (Totally cheese, I know, I just can't stop.)


Writing Assessment 
click above


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Teamwork Rubric and 2 Linky Parties

Teacher Blogs...  I have been thinking about how spectacular it is that all of us can learn so much from each other online.  I am in a school where I am the only 2nd Grade Teacher.  I have found it invaluable to go blog-stalking.  Blogs are a great window into classrooms around the world.  You get to see all the amazing things that teachers doing in their classrooms, relate to their vignettes, and download tons of really useful resources.  It really does help one to work smarter and not harder, which is always one of my goals.

I wish there were teacher blogs when I started teaching!  Do you feel that way too?  Well, head on over  to the Linky Party  Michelle is holding at 123 Teach to share your teaching tips.  Or if you're a new teacher,  get ready to take notes!   She is hosting a Linky Party of teaching tips for new teachers.  She even provides a cute template for you to use.  Check it out!  See the link and my tips below. 



It really goes to show that blogs are re-defining the boundaries of teacher collaboration and teamwork.  So here's a resource related to teamwork for you.  I taught a unit on effective teamwork earlier in the year for our How We Organize Ourselves unit (an IB PYP Transdiciplinary Theme). Together,  my students and I co-created the rubric below to assess their final teamwork project. Can any of you use this in your classrooms?   I'd love to hear your comments!

Finally, where do I go blog stalking to tap into this virtual world of wonderful ideas?  Well, today I found a  a long list of over 200 blogs.  I can't wait to go through them all.  This K-2 Linky Party is hosted by Kindergarten Lifestyle.  Head on over, if you haven't seen it already.