Color Wheel Science!

My second graders are the best scientists! We created this project together to try to understand why when we mix two colors, we come up with a new one. We decided to create our own color wheel with water filled plastic cups! We then added a few drops of blue, yellow and red food coloring to 3 of the cups. Finally, we added folded paper towels that connected the colors. What a fun project!

We started this project on Monday and by Wednesday we could already see the strong green, purple and orange! Needless to say, we had a blast!

Take your Classroom Jobs to the Next Level

All teachers know that Classroom Jobs are the best! They give students the opportunity to be responsible and they can be a big help in making sure that things are organized and run smoothly. Then why not take your classroom jobs to the next level? This post will help you to set up an authentic Classroom Economy, which will teach your students to budget their money and it is really fun! To make sure it is authentic experience for your students, make sure not to use your Classroom Economy as a behavioral management system. I know it can be really tempting to give money as a positive reinforcement. However, in real life,  nobody is given money for just being good! The objective here is to have your students learn not only how to make money in the real world, but to save it for things they need and want!

1. Hire your students!

There are many classroom jobs you can set up in your classroom. Here is a list of jobs and salaries and a flyer I created for my classroom jobs:

Here is the link to the pfd of the flyer

Business Owners: These are the students that will buy things from the teacher store (they are not allowed to sell their personal things or things they brought from home) and will resell it for a profit. (No salary)
Police: The police will go around and make sure everyone is doing their job and they are being honest. ($400)
Journalists: Your Journalists will create a newspaper that will give them a chance to practice what they are learning in writing and they will be able to advertise for the business owners and other classroom services. (No salary)
Librarians: These students are in charge of making sure all books are organized (I also had my librarians scan all of my books to my iPad app "Book Retriever"). ($500)
Entertainers: This job is perfect for those students that need a creative outlet every once in a while. Entertainers will be coming up with a 2 minute performance for the classroom. I had students telling jokes, performing in a play and even just setting up a museum with their art. ($500)
Banker: The Banker will be in charge of collecting taxes, rent and other charges from all students. ($650)
Room Supervisors: These students will be making sure everything stays clean at all times. They can also charge individual students to clean their desks or cubbies! ($420)

After explaining the jobs to my students, I told them that they would have to write a persuasive piece (which was what we were working on at the time) explaining what job they wanted and why I should hire them. I also told them that payday would always be on Wednesdays.

2. Warn them about their expenses!

After you decide which students to hire for the different jobs, students will be really excited to start making money! But they need to be warned about their living expenses:

Desk Rent: $100 (paid every Monday)
Electricity: $5 (paid every Tuesday)
Water/Sewer/Trash: $5 (paid every Tuesday)
Maintenance/Supplies: $65 (paid every Friday)
Taxes: $50 (paid every Thursday)

In my classroom, if my students didn't pay their desk rent, during Social Studies time, their desks would be placed outside of the classroom. Yes, they were still allowed inside of the classroom, but their desks would only be allowed inside when they paid their rent.
If they didn't pay taxes, they would go to "jail" (behind my easel), where they would either pay their taxes or wait for a period of time before they could rejoin the class. 

3. Set up your teacher store.

Have your students bring in little toys and little things that they think would help them with their jobs. Every item goes to the teacher store, meaning, students are not allowed to bring things from home and then sell them. Buy some mechanical pencils and lots of paper. During our 30-min Social Studies time, my students were only allowed to use pencils and paper they had been originally bought from the teacher store. By doing this, I was able to teach them about supply and demand. All teachers know that pencils get lost all the time, and I was only selling so many pencils! At first, the supply of pencils was high, but at the end the demand for our social studied pencils was really high! There were a few days that some of the Journalists had to share their pencils while doing their jobs! We were able to really talk about supply and demand and when students saw how this concept affected them, they were all able to easily understand it!

3. Help them budget their money!

For the first week, about half of my students didn't have money for paying their taxes! The teacher store had some nice goodies then, and most of them went ahead and spent all the money they had in hands. Before starting the second week, I introduced this simple weekly budget.
Here is the link for the weekly budget

We went step by step together and each student calculated how much they would be able to spend on things they want on Friday. After introducing budgeting, my students were able to pay for all their expenses and save to buy some fun toys.

4. Have fun!

Don't think that the Classroom Economy has to be perfect before you start it. The imperfections of the system and your students' creativity will bring it all to balance! And it will also serve as a great learning experience on Financial Literacy!
Also, make the students do all of the work! I would only have my store open for 5-10 min during our lessons, so that way I could go around and help different groups. 
Lastly, you can decide how many times a week to have kids work on their jobs and this unit can take up to a few weeks, a month, or even the full year! After each week, I would let my students apply for different jobs so that they could all get a chance to provide goods or services!

Best "Getting to Know You" Game!

First week of school is coming up!! Who is excited??!! I know I am, but I also know that the first few days of school can be really hard for a student, for many different reasons. For the first few days, I like doing a lot of art, easy placement tests, setting up rules and playing games! Students will start to feel comfortable and happy whenever they have a friend they can relate and talk to. And that is what "Do you love your neighbor" is all about! Try it in your classroom and you won't regret it. My students loved it so much last year that we played it all year long!

Here is how to play: 
1- Get all of your students in a circle.
2- The teacher starts by going up to a student and saying: Do you love your neighbor?
3- If the student says yes, than their neighbors (friends sitting on each side of that student) must switch places and the person standing up must try to steal one of their seats.
4- If the student, however, says NO! Then that same student will have to say "But I do love people that....". This is where your students can get creative. They can say that they love people that love pizza, pokemon, minecraft, etc. All students that love the chosen thing will then have to find a new sit. The student that doesn't find a seat, goes on to ask a different student if he loves his neighbor.

Assessment - I vow to not suck at it again!

Oh man, assessment! I am not going to lie, assessing my kiddos was not my strength as a first year teacher. When finishing my teacher education program, I learned many assessment tools I could use in the classroom. However, as I became a full time teacher, I learned that many of those tools are not realistic or really useful to me.

So during this summer, I vowed to not suck at assessment ever again! I haven't tried this idea, but I think it might work. Check it out:

Grade Cam

Have you heard of Grade Cam? It is an app that scans students' multiple choice assignments using your phone's or iPad's camera. It also lets you create reports and transfer them to any type of
gradebook your school might use.

Here is how I am planning on using this tool:

I will laminate one of these 5 multiple answer forms for each one of my students with their "Grade Cam IDs" already filled in for them (just to make it a little easier) and tape it to their desks. Each student will have a dry erase marker to make is possible for the forms to be reused. During my lessons, I can either have planned multiple choice questions (on a power point for example) or come up with them on the fly.

I am hoping this will eliminate all the grading I had to do and it will also make assessment fast and easy for my students. All they will need for these will be a dry erase marker and filling in the bubbles. These should take no more than 2 minutes to get done and scanning the forms is so easy that I am thinking about making it one of my classroom jobs! Once I get this tool tested, I will update this post to let you know how it works, but for now, fingers crossed!!!

My very first post!

In the teaching world, there are many firsts. Your first open house, your first lesson, and of course, the first time your students line up under 10 seconds (that one took me a long time to achieve). I have done all of those, and I know I have many firsts to come with my second year and all the years to come as a teacher. But now is the time to get this first out of the way! My very first blog post!

I have been meaning to start a blog for a while now. I wanted to share ideas that I love with all the other teachers out there. I also want to be able to share lessons and activities for free.

We teachers spend a lot of our own money every year. We should at least be able to have access to free educational resources that are also cute! I will be posting everything that I make for my classroom this year on this blog. Hope you like it!