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Spring Time Safety Tips

     Warm weather is on the way...finally! I love when the groundhog does a good job. With spring comes outside playing, fun activities, end of the year prep (YES!!!), and stormy weather. I love to discuss how to stay safe while in the sunshine or bad weather. Here are my top 3 talking points when discussing spring time safety with my students.

1. Tornado Safety
"In like a lion" sometimes takes on a real meaning! Just last week my students had to be in our tornado safe place for 2 hours... When warmer weather starts to appear, I want to
1. Make sure my students are prepared for bad weather.
2. Help them understand what is happening, the science behind the tornados/stormy weather so it will help take some of the fear out of the storm.
I am one of those people who hear about a tornado and run right outside to see it!
My husband is just the opposite, so I have him take the dog to safety too. When discussing tornados, my favorite book to read is {Super Storms by Seymour Simon}. 
Then we dig into tornado vocabulary, then discuss how a tornado forms. 
Then we talk about how to stay safe during a tornado. Students then make their own tornado safety plan. I really like to make this a family project so familes kind of HAVE to talk about tornado safety. I can remember my mom telling me allll our safety plans and 12 year old me would just roll my eyes, totally annoyed. But I can still tell you where our meeting place is for a fire and what to do at my Mom's for a tornado! I think kids need to know where to go and what to do for multiple locations...school, Grandparents', the car, Wal-Mart...because let's be real, tornado's are scary and kids need to be prepared! 
You can find all this and a science experiement in my {Tornado Mini-Unit}

2. Playground/Park Safety
As the weather warms, kids love to go outside and play. In this day and age, many parents don't mind taking their kids to the park or a playground, but they also take their phones. I see so many people just scrolling through whatever while their kids are playing. If something were to happen, kids need to be aware. I always remind my students:

1. Don't talk to strangers- Pretty basic I know, but with all the creepy stuff happening with people watching and taking kids, a park would be easy. Kids need to know that if a stranger is approching them, they need to go to their adult, just to be on the safe side.

2. If you see something sharp on the ground, tell an adult you trust right away.-Some parks are not as clean as others. Better safe than sorry!

3. If you can't see your adult, they can't see you.- This is a good rule for more than just the park! My mom always told me to "Stay where I can see you." I tell my students this on field trips too!

4. If something is broke, it's probably best to stay away. -Park equiptment can be dangerous if it is broken. Metal rusts, and I've those shots are no fun!

3. Bus Safety
This is important through out the year! Toward the spring, field trips are happening and end of the year trips are scheduled. Kids get restless toward the end of a nice spring day and are ready to run! My friends at {Andy Mohr Kia} made a great infographic to remind parents, kids, and drivers how to stay safe when on the bus.

Warm weather is my favorite! I love getting my students outside to work, read, or just plain old play. 

My students "earn" so many extra recesses when it's nice out. Sometimes you just need to get outside in the sunshine! It's always a great time as long as we stay safe! 

Happy Spring!


How to get your Students Hooked on Books from Day One

Day 1
     The butterflies are flying all around the room. Everyone, including you, is a little nervous and excited for the new school year. You are looking back at a whole variety of reading levels and interests. Some are super into unicorns or dinosaurs, where others just like Minecraft. How do you reach all those interests and help them love reading?
      By now, yes even in 2nd grade,  they have a strong opinion whether they like to read or not. Many, unfortunately, are not. Reading is not "cool." The ones who loving reading have already been labeled as a nerd. What they don't realize is being a nerd is totally in!

Step 1
     Have students make a list of books they have read. Then they can circle the ones they really loved with a crayon. If they can't remember the title, thats OKAY! Have them describe the book, even better. This can be a great get to know you activity for the first week of school. Give them groups and let them tell each other about their lists. A discussion of books and stories on the first day?!? #teacherwin!

Step 2
     As you are giving a classroom tour, jump into what the perfect reading spot looks like. Do they like bright or dim spots? Do they need background noise or a quiet spot to read? What about seating: laying down or sitting up, hard chair, or fluffy pillow? Discuss fun places around your room they can read. Of course you also need to discuss places they cannot read, like in front of doors or the teacher area. Jennifer Serravallo suggests you have students think about what distracts them while they are reading as they think about finding the perfect reading spot. [ The Reading Strategies Book, 2015]

Step 3
     Remember that list of books they loved? Let them get those brand new Crayolas out and make a poster "advertising" their favorite book. Hang them around the room or in your own classroom library. This will be a great incentive for them to do their best coloring too. You don't even have to have poster board, just use printer paper or construction paper! Make this easy on you and fun for them. I like to have the students write JUST enough information or details to catch someone's interest without giving away the story.

Step 4
{Just Right Books}: you knew it was coming...Most of the time, students don't like reading at a second grade level because it's HARD. They want to read the cool books their older brothers and sisters are reading, they try, but they can't. That's where the "I hate reading" mentality comes from. Help them find books that fit THEIR interest and THEIR reading level. Let's be real, second graders may need the Biscuit type books, but they generally aren't interested in Biscuit and his little adventure at school anymore.  As you get to know your kids, you can introduce the to DogMan graphic novels or maybe your student needs to meet Encyclopedia Brown!

Step 5
     You need to show your students that YOU are interested in reading yourself! Choose a fun read aloud that will get their attention from the start. Read to your students every. single. day. Angie Olson from {Lucky Little Learners} has an amazing list of {great read alouds} just for 2nd grade! In my classroom, I love to read Roald Dahl to my kids. The stories are generally funny and they are just a little too hard for second graders to read alone. I skip over any bad language and take time to explain the English words that Dahl uses so the kids aren't lost. When I think of a read aloud for elementary students, I think about books that are too hard for them to read themselves, but still interesting for their age. Head to your local library or your school library. Talk to the librarian about what you could read if you aren't sure where to start!

You may still have some reluctant readers, but keep trying! Don't give up on them. They just need to find THAT book they can't put down. These types of students typically get intimidated by all the words. Start with {graphic novels} and watch their love of reading take off!

<3 Aimee

Four Tips for Moving to Second Grade

     Congratulations! Welcome to the 2nd grade group, you are going to love it! Whether you wanted to make the switch or your admin made you switch, embrace your new grade. You can do it! Here are my top four tips for getting to know 2nd grade before your first day. 

1. Learn your standards.
     You need to find out what you are going to be teaching. Take a half hour+ and really read through your standards. You are going to be in charge of instruction for those standards this year, you might as well get an idea of what they are! Make sure you also understand what the standard is asking for. Sometimes those "standard's makers" are tricky! If you are totally lost on one, look for a parent version or even a child checklist version to help you understand. No shame in that game! You can't teach it if you don't understand it! 
     If you haven't been in a primary grade for a while...or ever, it may also be a good idea to check out first grade standards to see what your future kiddos already should know! 
 Indiana Academic Standards: {English/LA} {Math}
I'm sure there are more states that do not use Common Core... Google your state's if you aren't sure! :) 

2. Get social
     This applies to social media AND other teachers you may be working with. Let's start with social media. 
     Social Media: There are SO many amazing Facebook groups you could join to help you get to know second grade. I personally do not like to bog down my newsfeed with ONLY teacher groups though, so keep that in mind when you are searching for groups. Two of my favorite are {Lucky Second Grade Teachers} and {Spectacular Second Grade}. Angie Olson from {Lucky Little Learners} is the admin/creator of the Lucky Second Grade group. She and her fabulous team of administrators work hard to keep the group so positive! I hate getting on Facebook and seeing negitive, whiny posts from other teachers. I know everyone has a bad day, but in a group of 20,000+ people you have a lot of bad days at the same time. The people in this group are helpful and great resources of knowledge about 2nd grade. Spectacular Second Grade is hosted by Anna from {Simply Skilled in Second}. This group is also a great resource. You can use Facebook's search feature to search the groups for whaever you need info on, from guided reading to great shoes for the classroom. Both groups are just great.  

     Grade Level Team: There is a good chance you aren't the ONLY 2nd grade teacher in your school. Yes, I get in some cases you may be all on your own, which if that's the case, use social media to help you! Get to know your fellow 2nd grade teachers. Have lunch, make a meeting time. It's important to form a positive, working relationship with those who you will be working with on a daily basis. They can guide you through the curriculum or assist in setting up your room. Who knows, you may even make a best friend! I sure did when I moved to 2nd. Make a list of questions if you are a shy person. This will help get the ball rolling! Find out about your reading series or pacing guide. Ask about math  and find out what your schedule will look like. These will all help ease your mind on that first day/first week of 2nd grade. It can be overwhelming with 25+ seven and eight year olds are looking at you for answers and you have no clue what's happening. 

3. Blogs
     There are SO many great 2nd grade blogs out there that you could check out. When I first moved to 2nd grade, I would get lost for hours in these blogs. They are full of tips, tricks, advice, and freebies that are extreamly useful. Here are 3 of my favorite second grade blogs. 

-{Step into Second Grade} Amy Lemons is the QUEEN of all things 2nd. Amy has advice on room transformations, ways to get students engaged, and the products she creates are very worth the money. She is also the co-creator of the Rooted in Reading reading curriculum that is on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
-{Lucky Little Learners} Angie Olson is equally amazing. She is my go to gal for anything math, even though she has great posts about other things too. She is the creater of Toothy, which you should search on the Facebook group. It is wonderful for groups or early finishers. 
-{Sailing into Second} Aris is amazing! She is very techy and makes excellent videos for "how to" do  a lot of awesome things for your second grade classroom. 

There are TONS of other great 2nd grade blogs, use Google to help you search. Also, Pinterest is a great resource for finding blogs. 

4. Procedures
    When you walk into your classroom on that first day, no matter how long you have been teaching, you have butterflies. You are excited to meet your new kids, nervous to find out who they are, and full of wonder to know what this school year will hold. Make the first day go smooth by having a plan. I know you are thinking, "Duh Aimee, I know I need a plan." But the plan I'm talking about will affect your whole school year. Think about your day. How do you imagine your typical day going? Think about how you want your students to go through their day. These things can make or break your year. I make a list of procedures I want to work on through the first few weeks. Each year I have to add to the list because there is always something I didn't think of the year before. Here are a list of questions to help with your procedures list.

-How will your students come into the room? What will the do first, next, and finally?
-What about backpacks? Where do they go? What are the expectations for that area?
-How about a lunch count or attendance?
-Bathroom policies (They will be totally different inside and outside the classroom.)
-Behavior management?
-How will they move from place to place? What about chairs? Where do they sit when they move? ----Where are acceptable places to read in the room?
-How do we borrow and put books back in the library?
-What about desks? How should a desk look? Where do things go? (Desks are a whole new ball game when they get to 2nd grade in our school, it's a HOT MESS for a while!)
-How do we treat others? What words should we use?
-What about homework? Stickers on charts, turning it in, what kind will it be?
-Packing up for the day is usually a mess in my room. This has def been added to my list!
-What about the lunch line? Cleaning up afterward? Making a mess during? Volume levels?

Remember: Things that seem like such common sense to us, are things you still should go over. They are 7 and 8 years old. Even if they know, a reminder doesn't hurt. We always assume they know how to line up and walk in the hall. Yes, they have done it for 3 years, but that does NOT mean they know how YOU want them to walk in the hall and line up. Think about what expecations you have for your classroom and students.
Oh, and practice, practice, practice. If they don't do it the way you have modeled and explained. Remodel and re-explain. Then have them try again. and again. and again if you have to! It can be a slow process, I understand, but these practices can make or break your year. Don't ease up. They can do it, just be patient!

Don't phych yourself out. They are second graders. You are the teacher. You have been trained for this. You can do it!

Enjoy your year, and don't forget: have fun!