Part 2: Creating a Strong Classroom Community & a Freebie

Thanks for visiting! Here is part two or the other seven ways a strong classroom community is created in my classroom.

-Create classroom expectations with students.  I print out an expectation page for each area of our classroom.  The page may have one or two expectations on it but then I ask the students to add more expectations to the list.  This creates buy in from the students. When a disagreement might arise we revisit the expectation sheet for the area and show them what they wanted included.  This quickly ends any disagreement. I leave the sheets up all school year, sometimes we add to the expectations if necessary.

-Practice routines.  Practice routines. Practice routines.  I can’t stress this enough. We practiced routines until the last days of school.  You may be thinking that I should have changed something but, this goes back to being consistent.  Students knew if they were too loud in the hallway we would go back and do it again, even if we were late for recess!  When asked to explain why we had to practice they communicated the correct answer (they are only 7-8 years old and I know they get excited).

-Students tell the “why”.  As stated above the students had to explain why.  Over my years of teaching, students quickly find that I don’t mind “wait time”.  So I am very happy to wait for an answer.

-Freedom to choose.  The directions are given, expectations have been set, and now students have the freedom to choose. One thing students always say at the end of the school year is, "Mrs. Brown you let us have a lot of freedom." They also learn quickly that with freedom comes responsibility.

-Display student work.  The student display area in my classroom or hallway has the students’ name prominently displayed.  Students do not want their space to be the only one without a completed paper/project. My students also spend time looking at each other’s projects.  I love hearing the compliments they say to their friends. With that I have also heard some not so nice comments. That sparks additional conversations.

-Playing games is huge in our classroom.  Some games like heads down, thumbs up are usually just for fun.  Other games are played for learning activities - math, reading/ELA, especially in science and social studies.

-Create anchor charts together.  My favorite is giving students sticky notes to add their thoughts/ideas/answers to our anchor charts. Frequently I have the students put their initials in the corner of the sticky note.  This ups the game for them, they take ownership of their ideas/thoughts/answers.

As promised here is a freebie for your Morning Meetings. I have 56 questions ready for you to print and go! Hop over to my TpT store to get your freebie.
Stop by again to see what is happening in 2nd grade!

Creating a Strong Classroom Community

I do not start the school year counting down the days but, truthfully I only have 170 days to build strong relationships with the students in my care.  A strong classroom community is essential to the life of the classroom. Students want to be connected and accepted and I want to be connected to my students.

Almost everything we do in our classroom hinges on building community.  

The 2018-2019 school brought 24 smiling new faces into my second grade classroom.  This was the biggest group of students I had ever had (my hat is off to those of you who regularly have 24+ students).  I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of kids!” 

Fast forward to the last day of the 2018-2019 school year, tears ran down the little cheeks of many of my students as we said our good-byes.  Tears usually form in my eyes, but never had I seen so many tears from students. Why were these sweet little ones so emotionally?

Later in the evening an answer came via a FB comment from a sweet parent, “I have never had a child crying at the end of the last day of school because she didn’t want to leave!!!  She has always loved her teachers...yet never been like this! You must have had a big impact on her this year!” Making an impact is what all teachers do for their students and families.

As I think about the good things from previous school years, I try to incorporate those and also have a positive growth mindset toward the new school year.  

Here are 14 ways that I use to create a strong classroom community.  This is not an exhaustive list but the ways that work for us. The ideas are not in any particular sequence.

Today I would like to share the ways that I foster a strong classroom community. This is part one of a two part series.  Part two (the next 7 ways) of the series will feature what we (my students and I) do build our classroom community. Be sure to visit next week for part two.

-Be consistent.  Students like structure.  They like things to be predictable.

-Learn their names quickly.  To end our first day of school, I say  good-bye to all my students using their first name.

-Use their names around the classroom.  My door decoration is a welcoming display complete with student names.  A quick Pinterest search and you’ll find something for your classroom door.

-Have clear directions.  Consistent is an adjective that would describe my style in the classroom.  The students know that what Mrs. Brown says, she will do. Directions are given, written, and demonstrated.  Often times I have students repeat directions back to the class so everyone will hear them one last time.

-Visit with students.  I take time to talk with my students.  What did you do this weekend? Where did you get that new hat? New shirt?  Did you get a haircut? What do you think you will have for dinner tonight?  Take the time to visit with your kiddos.

-Change things up.  Some are are a “go with the flow” kind of a day.  When “go with the flow” is written on the board next to our schedule, my little ones giggle and say, “OK, Mrs. Brown we know what that means.”  Even my students that need more structure have responded well to this technique, just because I took the time to prep them with a simple few words.

-Work on good manners.  I like to call my students ladies and gentlemen.  Some will ask, “Why do you call us that?” This is the perfect opening to explain how they can be ladies and gentlemen.  We talk about girls going first, boys helping a lady (usually me), and much, much more. Before you think this is old fashioned or out of date, remember how important manners are in our daily lives.

Be sure to stop by next week for part two of the building
classroom community series. Next week will focus on
students and teacher working together.

Until next time,

The cute clip art is found at Creative Clips by the talented
Krista Walden.


Egg-ceptional Time

Celebrate Easter or spring with Egg-ceptional Time activities!   

Egg-ceptional Time provides independent practice for telling time to 5-minute intervals.

This activity is great for your math workshop, small group, partner, or independent practice.  As always, neon bright paper is perfect to create eye-catching activities.

Your students will love the Scoot activity.  My students enjoy bopping around the classroom and completing their work.  Especially the group I have this year!  They need activities that are fast-paced and hands-on.

Check out the full version, which includes more activities and more cards.  Visit my TpT store.

Until next time,


A Peek at Our Week

What a fun week!  Even though we started and finished our assessment season, we still had many learning opportunities.

1 - Geometry - We worked on 2D and 3D shapes.  Interactive notebook pages, games, and hands-on cube building all happened last week.  What better way to create a 3D cube than with pretzels and marshmallows?  Of course, eating it is equally fun.

2 - Westward Expansion is our focus in Social Studies.  Everyday we add to our Pioneer board.

3 - Snowman Stories - Students worked with the writing prompt, "What made the snowman smile?"  They had a fun time trying to figure out what caused the snowman to smile.  Let me just say there was a lot of kisses being thrown around the snowmen!

The kiddos did a great job creating their snowman pictures. 

4 - Yummy Snowmen - We added to our fun last week with a yummy snowman snack!  The students always enjoy making our special classroom snacks.

5 - 2D & 3D Shape Race Game - I created these freebies just for you!  Well, and me too!  My students enjoy playing the games when they finish with their regular math work or during our math workshop rotations.

Visit my TpT store to get your 2D & 3D Shape Race Games.

Have a great week!


Happy New Year! & Sunday 6

How is it possible that 2019 is here!  It seems like I just got accustom to writing 2018 (not really but you know what I mean).  

Like many of you my Christmas vacation came to an end much too soon.  Christmas and other holidays is such a wonderful time to relax and spend with family.

1- I'm going to jump up on my soap box for a few seconds... I always enjoy visiting the blogs of other teachers and checking out what is going on in their classrooms.  Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade is usually one of my first stops even though I teach 2nd grade.  Not too long ago many teacher bloggers were linking up with others and the information/support system was fantastic. I know many now utilize FB and IG to put out their ideas.  I guess I'm just wishfully thinking about the good old days.

2 - I finally finished a new Stink book companion, Stink Hamlet and Cheese.  Check out this new product in my TpT store - Stink Hamlet and Cheese.

3 - We started our measurement unit this week!  It seems like it took so long to finish our multi-digit addition unit.  I'm glad we are on to something new!
You can see my friends are using both standard and non-standard (fingers) units of measurement.  I love seeing the intent looks on faces and dedication to their work!

4 - Making inferences was another skill we worked on this week.  Students put on their badges and became detectives, as they read the stories and made inferences about each.  Great partner activity, complete with partner discussion about each short story.

5 - Yup, just like Mrs. Wheeler my Christmas tree is still up!  I love the lights and sparkle it adds to the dark January days in Wisconsin.  I have taken down some of my Christmas decorations, but my snowmen are out in full force even though there is no snow on the ground as I write this.  Very strange for WI not to have snow in January.

6 - We've been enjoying our instant pot Christmas gift.  I didn't think I would really use it that much.  Boy, was I wrong!  So many yummy recipes on Pinterest.  The IP is perfect for our busy schedule.

Have a wonderful week!  Stop back again to visit!


TpT Cyber Sale!!!

Download for Facebook - 740 × 400
Everyone loves a sale!!!  Pop over to my TpT store to find everything on sale.  Be sure to use the promo code: CYBER18 when you check out.

Don't forget to watch for my new freebies at 
The site where everything is always FREE!

Back to school on Monday.  Just like you I'm not ready to give up my Thanksgiving vacation yet!  Maybe watching Christmas movies will ease my Sunday blah feeling.

Enjoy your week!