Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: group tutoring starts Monday, November 26th!

I know that you've all been waiting for the big announcement, so here it is: Kids Under Construction will be offering group tutoring beginning Monday, November 26th!

This has been YEARS in the making, and I'm so excited that we are finally offering these workshops to students that need the help. Starting the week after Thanksgiving, we will be offering two different math facts workshops that run for 4 weeks. Each workshop will have 8 sessions, and students will be doing a variety of fun and effective research-based activities to help them master their basic math facts. Although the workshops are geared for grades 1-3 (addition and subtraction) and grades 3-5 (multiplication and division), students of all ages are invited to register.

Over the past 4 years, I have seen the curriculum that challenges students most. I've been collecting a "toolbox" of resources that I knew I'd use for groups later. Well, later is now, and I'm so so excited for them.

In addition to math facts camps, we will also be offering science enrichment, reading comprehension, and writing workshops, just to name a few. Stay tuned for promotions and updates! To see a schedule of workshops being offered, visit our website here.

I'd love it if you all could help me spread the word...hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evolution of a logo

Four years ago, I met a wonderful woman named Connie. She makes fabulous paper products (notepads, cards, etc) that are just perfect for moms and teachers. I met her at the opening day carnival for AYSO when I was trying to drum up business. I had nothing but some cheap Vistaprint business cards, flyers I ran off on yellow copy paper, and matching shirts for my mom and me. We quickly threw together a booth, and I somehow found 18 terrific students that needed my help. I was more than thankful.

After that day, I knew that I wanted to pursue this as a business. I recruited Connie's help in designing a logo. It was a cute logo that looked something like this (this is a picture of our cake from our one year anniversary party):

It worked for the time being, but I decided that I was in LOVE with the Starbucks logo and I wanted something similar.  I had a friend design it for me, and we ended up with this:

That also worked for a while, but I wanted to jazz it up a bit and really brand my company. If I was going to invest some money into a logo, I wanted it to be AWESOME! And I wanted to love it. I did what most people in distress do nowadays, and I posted up a request on Facebook. I asked all of my friends for recommendations, and I came across the ever-so-talented Heather L Myers. Her business, Heather L Myers Design, would be the perfect fit for me. (She also has River&Bridge, a super cute place to go for invitations, announcements, and cards). We chatted a bit on the phone, I described my office to her, and we went from there. She sent me several designs, and it took me several weeks to decide what I wanted. Together (and by together, I mean she), we came up with this:

It was just PERFECT! I loved the blue because it matched the color in my office, and I loved the combination of fonts. However, I didn't really fall in head-over-heels love love LOVE with my logo until we started doing some branding together. Here's a picture of the new business cards I just received in the mail:

Aren't they just the cutest?! We made a flyer template and a cover page to match, and I'm dying over the new window design. I hope to have the new windows in place by the end of November when we start our group tutoring on-site. 

If you're in the business for some new business branding, I can't recommend her enough. She's fast, creative, and fabulous. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Math Facts Jenga

Here in Long Beach, there's a huge emphasis on math facts. The students take timed tests as early as first grade, and by second grade, students are expected to complete 70 addition problems in under 5 minutes. I'm sure this isn't a whole lot different than in other districts since knowing your math facts is such an important foundational skill.

Math facts can be fun, and we try to share our love for them with our students. Last year, I finally got around to making this. Each block has one addition, one subtraction, one multiplication, and one division fact on it. It's a fun way for students to review whatever facts they are working on, and there are so many different ways that you can play. I usually play one-on-one with my students, so I try to give them incentives. If they miss less that 5 facts, or if they catch 5 or more of my "silly mistakes" they get a sticker or stamp. Sometimes I also make the loser (the one that knocks the tower over first) answer all of the math facts on the blocks that fell over. 

Another fun thing to do is have the students match facts that have the same answers. For example, they might match 9+3 with 6x2, or 8-6 with 18/9.

How do you review math facts with your students?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TEACHER FRIENDS: three tips for conferences

I came across this entry on Clutter Free Classroom's blog while I was blog hopping today. If you're getting ready for parent teacher conferences, here are three tips that I think are fabulous!

1. Schedule conferences before school to make a definite end time. I agree that many parents will chat and chat and chat even if they know that other parents are waiting. However, many schools start early and have minimum days set aside for conferences, so doing conferences in the morning before school just isn't practical. It would take entirely too long. As an alternative, I have seen many teachers send home notes that say how many minutes are allocated for each conference.

2. Send home question sheets 1-2 weeks before conferences urging parents to write down their questions or concerns regarding their student. This gives parents time to gather their thoughts before the conference, and it gives teachers a sneak peek into parental concerns that can be used to guide the conference. This also helps prevent "just one more question" as you are trying to begin your next conference.

3. Make a short slideshow of pictures for each student to show parents. It's a great way to start your conference, it allows parents to "see" into your classroom, and it shows parents that you care about their child.

Click here to see the complete article on Clutter Free Classroom's blog!

How do you prepare for conferences?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy Monday

By now, the novelty of being back to school has worn off. We are in the middle October (which students and teachers would agree is the LONGEST month of the school year), so I thought I would share a few pictures from September. Perhaps they will take us back to those first few days of school when we were all SO excited to be back!

On the first day of school, I (I mean, uh, the desk fairy) was looking through desks in our first grade classroom. I was looking for student desks that had neat and orderly pencil boxes, a journal with their name on it, and a box that hadn't been written on. This year, we took the tops of the boxes that copy paper comes in and turned them upside down. The size is just about right for the desk, and it acts as a drawer that keeps all of their first grade treasures from falling all over the floor every time they need to take something out. On my search for 3 perfect desk drawers, I found the following:

I think it's a bookmark, and it made me cry. This sweet, adorable, optimistic first grader kept this in her desk all day. I wonder if she plays with it when she misses her mom. I wonder if it was a special present from her mom for the first day of school. I wonder how many times she missed her mom. I wonder how many times her mom missed her. Then, I found this on Facebook:

Could this be any sweeter?! I hope you all have a wonderful Monday back at school!