Saturday, February 26, 2011

Management Posters

Just thought I would quickly share a couple of little posters I have up in my room for classroom management.

I taught my class "give me 5" at the beginning of the year and this poster has been hanging on my whiteboard ever since as a reminder of what it really means when I say "give me 5". We review it often!

This is is a little poster I made with the lyrics to a quick song reviewing hallway behavior expectations. My kids love singing it just before we head out the door and it does seem to help them remember how to act in the hallway. I think they just secretly LOVE to listen to me mess up the lyrics...I can't seem to stop messing it up - my version always ends up with me belting out "eyes are closed...oh whoops!" and the kids erupting into laughter and pretending to walk with their eyes closed. : )  It is sung to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel". I found the song lyrics and idea somewhere online (I think it was ProTeacher?) and then just typed it up with a "cutesy" font and graphics!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fluency Idea

This week in Room 19 we began a new take-home activity, "The Great Poetry Race", to improve our reading fluency. The kiddos love it. This is not my original idea, but rather an idea that was in the April 2009 issue of Reading Teacher. I found out about it from a post on "The Second Grade Teacher's Club" and adapted the materials to meet my needs. Thank you Jennifer L. and everyone else who posted about this great activity!

So here's how it works: I began by reading a fun poem to my class at the beginning of the week and explaining the concept. I read them some of the parent letter too - my class loves knowing what parent letters say before their parents do! The goal is for students to read the poem to as many adults as possible throughout the week.

At the end of the week, the student with the most signatures is the winner of the race. Every student with 20 or more signatures is a "top finisher" and recieves a sticker for their sticker chart. When the chart is full they will get a small prize (I ordered matchbox cars, racing sillybandz, and racing pencils from Oriental Trading), but my favorite prize is a coupon to read their weekly poem to me, the secretary, or the principal for a signature. The first place finisher each week will get a prize right away as well as a chance to read the poem for the class and record it for a listening center.

My class is EATING THIS UP!  I had many read the poem to 20 adults this week and my top finisher had 25 signatures! That is with a snow day on Monday, so they didn't get started until Tuesday night. Any improvement in their fluency is a bonus at this point, because they are truly enjoying reading and sharing their poem with anyone who will listen. It's wonderful!

Check out the link below to download the materials I adapted and created to get started (parent letter, recording sheet, sticker chart, coupon, and leaderboard). Just a couple of hints: I plan on laminating the leaderboard and using a Vis-a-Vis marker to change out the names each week. Also, it works great to print the recording sheet back-to-back with the weekly poem.

The Great Poetry Race Packet

Let me know if you try "The Great Poetry Race" in your classroom. I want to know if you have any ideas to make it even better! Just google if you want to find out more or are looking for poems to use - there is a wealth of information about this idea on the internet. : )

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Another Math Printable

Power Towers Label
(click to download file in google docs)

Here's a little label to jazz up the containers you use to store the cups for your "power towers" center.  What are "power towers"?  Head on over to and check out the video about them. I started using this idea for a math center last week and it has quickly become a class favorite for practicing math facts. They seriously L-O-V-E it. One of my toughest little kiddos even begged me to have this activity be his "daily reward" for good behavior -- usually it's 5 free minutes on the computer at the end of the day.

On the video he suggests using pringles cans, but I had an empty container (from sugar-free kool-aid) laying around that worked out perfectly. The small size dixie cups fit great and it takes up less space. One other modification I made was to write the answer to the problem inside the top rim of each cup, so they can check their answer before adding the cup to the stack. If they get one wrong they have to put it back on the bottom of the stack.

Math Center Printable

(click to download activity on google docs)

I adapted an idea I saw on to make a math activity where the kids find all the possible addition sentences that make 8 using ice cube trays and manipulatives. Check out his video on making tens to see his original idea. Actually check out all his videos while you are there, he's got some FUN tips. My kiddos have loved everything I've implemented from his videos so far!

All the instructions for my version of the activity can be found at the link above. Let me know if you have any questions about how to use it.
Honestly, I can't wait to find a cute ice cube tray with ten spots so I can use the same concept for the combinations for 10, which are so important for kids to know.

I think this will be great center activity especially for my struggling math students who are still working on building their number sense.

Here's what the ice cube trays I am using look like:

(I've had these for awhile and I can't remember where I got them, but I can guarantee it was either in the Target dollar spot or a dollar store of some kind. :) I knew I'd use them for something eventually!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Welcome to The Grade Two Zoo!  I've been following some great teachers' blogs for awhile now and decided it was time to start my own. I can't wait to share ideas and continue to follow all the awesome teachers hanging out in "blog land". When I read about the "Meet the Teacher" linky party being hosted by Mrs. Carroll at The First Grade Parade (only my most favorite teaching blog!), I figured I should join. I mean what's a better way to kick-off a new blog than with some introductions?’s a little bit about me:

This is my first year of teaching. I teach second grade and absolutely love my job. 

That's me and my love! We've been together for a little over three years now and have two cute and mischievous dogs that keep us busy.

Tucker (with his most favorite toy EVER!)  

  Ellie (she's MUCH bigger now!) 
There's Tucker, the shih-tzu and the newest addition to our little family, Ellie, the border collie. Despite being quite the odd couple, they get along amazingly well and LOVE to play together. 

Brian and I moved into our house this past May (good-bye renting!) and are still busy renovating, remodeling, and decorating. We had to demo everything and start over, new siding and drywall, tearing down walls, the whole bit. It's been a long process. 

The year 2010 was fun, busy, and fulfilling for me - I graduated from college, taught preschool for about six months, moved to a new house in a new town, and got my dream job! It's been quite the adventure - I'm hoping 2011 will be just as fun and maybe a little less eventful!

Q & A
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?                                             
A: Probably something "crafty", teaching channels all my creativity into something productive.  I'd need an outlet!

Q: What are your hobbies?                                                                                    
A: Spending time with my friends and family, cooking, finding new ideas for my classroom, sewing/quilting, playing with my puppies, hunting and fishing with Brian, and anything else that sounds fun!                                                                    

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?                     
A: A teacher...surprise surprise!

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?                                                    
A: Surfing the internet for teaching ideas for HOURS, watching lame reality shows on TLC, and eating too much chocolate!

Q: What is your biggest fear?!                                                         
A: I'm terrified of birds.

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?                     
A: Depends on what kind of vacation -- sometimes I like to just relax, sometimes I like to try new things and be adventurous!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?                                                   
A: Don't sweat the small stuff.

Q: What do you value most in others?                                                                   
A: Honesty.

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?                                                                                                        
A: Diligence.

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the or dead...who would it be?                                                                                                 
A: My grandparents. I never knew them when I was old enough to remember what they were like, so that would be neat. 

Now tell us one random thing about yourself:

I don't like winter weather, but continue living in the frozen tundra (aka Wisconsin). GO PACK GO!

Join the "Meet the Teacher" linky party at: