Saturday, November 30, 2013

25 Days of Christmas

This has nothing to do with teaching, but I thought I'd share it with you.  Every now & then I try to find things I can do with my husband that we've never done before...something NEW!  You know, try to keep things "fresh".  Anyway, I came across with the website Dating Divas.  I hit the jackpot! 

I saw this idea that they called "Spouse Countdown".  For each day, starting on December 1st, your spouse will open one card until Christmas Day.  It could be just a small gesture of your appreciation, compliment or surprise dinner/movie/dessert.

Here's an example of what I did...

We love The Walking Dead!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's the Purpose?

I'm soooo behind on my blog posts!  I feel like I can barely keep my head above water.  Anywho, several weeks ago we started our unit on expository texts and started off with Author's Purpose.

In order to set the stage for Author's Purpose, we talked about all the different purposes of texts and charted them. 

Next, I showed them several video clips and they had to guess the purpose.  Some of these videos are VERY long, so I used TubeChop to chop the video to the length I wanted.  Here are the videos I used...can you guess the purpose?

In case you were wondering,  I did chop the word "crap" out of the Duck Dynasty video.

Next, I split the kids into groups and gave them several texts.  They created a T-chart in their reader's notebook and decided the purpose of each text.  Afterwards, we reviewed each text and discussed how we knew the author's purpose.

 FYI-these are NOT the answers on this T-chart

Most of the texts I used came from student magazines like National Geographic, Time for Kids, Scholastic News and Storyworks.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tried It Tuesday-Shopping Lists

It's Tuesday, so that means it's time to link up with Holly @ Fourth Grade Flipper
A few weeks ago, I blogged about how I level my classroom library.  If you missed it, click here to read about it. My goal is to get "Just Right" books in the hands of my students.  Some of them do a great job picking "Just Right" books, but others still need some guidance.

In order to help guide them to "Just Right" books, I give each student a shopping list.  Take a look...

They received the shopping lists AFTER I've already assessed their reading level.  None of the kids know which "color" represents which reading level.  I did this on purpose because as I mentioned before, my students tend to be very competitive.  To prove my point, when I handed out their shopping lists, some of my students first question was "Which color is the HIGHEST level?"  I explained that it's not a competition and that they aren't all the same cookies.  These colors represent which type of books are just right for YOU!

The dots represent the students current "independent" reading level and their "instructional" reading level. 

So far, it seems to be working beautifully with the majority of the students.  However, there are a few that I have to go shopping with and we use their list as a guide when we choose books.

At the beginning of the next grading period, I'll give the students all new shopping lists with different colors.

If you are interested in trying this out, please click here. Even if you don't have your library organized like mine, I've included another shopping list you could use to give suggested books/series.

Until next time...

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spark Student Motivation-Stamp Card

I'm a little late, but I'm linking up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her weekly Spark Student Motivation.

This year, like many of you, we starting using Class Dojo at our school.  

In years past, our district used an "expectation card" for the teachers to note any off task behaviors and each week the parents were required to sign it. Now, there are pros and cons to Class Dojo.  Let's start with the pros. 1. You can download the app on your phone, which makes it super easy to gives those points.  2. It allows the teachers to give "positive" points, so parents will know that their little darling is doing well in class and not just off task. Now for the pros to Class Dojo.  It requires to parents to login to check their student's report.  Now, it should be fairly easy if they download the app, but not all parents have downloaded the app. Also, I know not all parents are checking it because I can see who's checked the report. This past week, I had 4 parents check their child's dojo report and some parents haven't checked it since September.  I'm going to be honest, I don't check my own child's report each week....oops!  Mom of the Year!

Here's the motivation for my students...a STAMP CARD!

I wish I could say this was my brilliant idea, but it wasn't.  When I joined the team, this type of reward system was already in place and I'm not sure which brilliant teammate came up with it.

Using the class dojo report, the students will receive a row for each "positive" dojo point for that week.  If the student happens to receive any "negative" dojo points, then we subtract the negative points from the positive points to determine how many "rows" they receive for the week.  I collect their stamp cards each Monday morning before I reset the bubbles and give them their points for the previous week.  We will also collect these cards any time we see a student going above and beyond. Some teachers use those cute little crayola stampers, but I don't want to bother with that.  I will usually just initial the row or box.

Students can turn in their "boxes" for rewards in the classroom.  At the beginning of the year, we brainstorm some "rewards" they'd like to receive.  My partners and I decided which "rewards" to include and the point value of each reward.  Here are a few of the rewards the students can receive...

If you're interested, click here for your own stamp card and here for the rewards.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Daily Schedule

I saw this linky party and decided to join Susan @ Thank God It's First Grade!

It was so much fun to see everyone's schedules!  Here's my weekly schedule...

We are contracted to work from 7:55-3:55, but we all know that we work MUCH longer than that!  I usually arrive around 7:30 because I bring my own personal child to school with me (pros and cons to that!), so it's difficult to get out of the house any earlier.  It's rare that I'm out the door by 4pm, but lately I haven't had a choice. My son started playing select baseball and also plays for a local baseball league too.  We usually are at baseball practice or games 4 days during the week and sometimes as many as 5 games on the weekends. Yikes!!!!

I'm blocked, so I teach the same subjects 3 times a day.  We call it...Trios!  I think my last block are the fortunate souls because I figure out what didn't work with the first two blocks and I'm able to adjust my lesson by the time I see my last class.

Community Circle is a time for community building activities or quick Minute to Win It games.

Extended Learning Time is when the kiddos are pulled for Intervention, Speech or Social Groups.  Those who aren't being pulled are working on enrichment activities.  This is also my opportunity to pull kids from all 3 of my blocks to reteach any skills they haven't mastered.

The kids rotate daily for Specials and I'm going to admit that I'm a little jealous of those of you who have Technology on your specials rotation.  The district I use to work for had Technology on their specials rotation, but not my current district.  We still have Technology objectives, but those objectives are put back on the regular classroom teachers to teach.  You know, in our spare time!

Several times we have to make adjustments to our schedule for Library (Fridays), Professional Learning Communities (we call it PDR & we rotate every other week), Grade Level Musicals, School-Wide Programs, Author Visits, Field Trips, ect...  It seems like lately all we've done is adjust our schedule for this or that!

Duty...ha ha, you said DUTY!!!  My grade level rotates our duty weekly.  So, there are some weeks I'll have a morning duty & some weeks I'll have afternoon duty.  Once in a blue moon, we have a duty free week.

So, that's my weekly schedule in a nutshell!

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tried it Tuesday-Telligami

It's been a while since I linked up with Holly @ Fourth Grade Flipper, but I actual tried something new!!

 I've discovered a new App called Telligami.  It's so much fun!!!!  Keep in mind, I'm going to share the background of our work BEFORE we ever started the Telligami project.

In class, we were discussing character traits and how the author reveals those character traits through the character's actions or words they say (evidence).  

We started out by discussing how character traits can be either negative or positive and we charted our traits together.

Next, we talked about how author's reveals those traits through a character's action or words.  I decided to use the characters from our read aloud, Wonder ( I did blog about my read aloud earlier, click here if you missed it), to discuss clues the author uses to reveal character traits (evidence).  I created a chart and picked a few characters.  The students had to come up with any trait, but support that trait with text evidence from the book.  In addition, they had to tell me if this was a verbal clue or action clue.  Here's the chart we came up with...

Now, here comes Telligami!  It's going to be LEGEN...wait for it...DARY!  LEGENDARY! (For those How I Met Your Mother that show!)

We have about 10 mini ipads in the class, so I have to split the kids into groups. Each groups is assigned a different character and they have to keep their character a secret (I wanted the class to guess who the character is based on their Telligami avatar).  I did give each group a copy of the chapters that describe their characters physical features (most can't remember the specifics of the character).  

Next, I gave them this character trait puzzle sheet...
 This is NOT my original idea, but from the brilliant mind of Amanda @ My Shoe String Life  Visit her blog to download your copy!

After they completed their puzzle pieces, it was time to start working on their Telligami.  Here are my kiddos hard at work...

They came out so GOOD!!!  Take a look at a few...

Sorry I had to include links...still trying to figure out this whole Blog thing!!!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Choose Kind

Most of you have heard of the book Wonder by: R.J. Palacio, right?! 

It is my new FAVORITE read aloud!  I discovered this gem last year and totally fell in love with it.  The book has such a wonderful message about acceptance and kindness.  My students love the book too! 

Here's the book trailer...

Before I ever begin reading the book, I show the kids a video clip from Britain's Got Talent.


Afterwards, we talk about the judges and the audience's first reaction to Susan.  Why were they so quick to judge Susan before they ever heard her sing?  What was the lesson the judges and audience learned from Susan's audition.  Hopefully, they'll be able to tell you "don't judge a book by it's cover".

The book is broken up into "parts" and is told from several character's point of view.  Before I finish reading the first part of Auggie's point of view, I play this video of the song Wonder by: Natalie Merchant.

I have the students write a response that compares the book Wonder with the song Wonder.  Click here to grab the response.  Before I ever give them the response, I have them listen to the song first.  Then, I read the response to them and give them another opportunity to hear the song again before writing. 

One of Auggie's teacher's, Mr. Brown, posts monthly precepts in his class and the students have to write an essay on the meaning of that precept.  I keep a poster of those same precepts and the students have to work in groups to come up with their own meaning of the precept. Take a look...

The kids are always curious what Auggie looks like.  And in the first chapter, Auggie says "I won't describe what I look like, whatever you're's worse". So, we don't get a glimpse of Auggie's appearance until part 2, Via's point of view.  It's called...August Through a Peephole.  When I get to this chapter, I have the students bring their reader's notebook and a pencil to the floor.  Then, I read the portion of the chapter that describes Auggie...FIRST.  Next, I have the students draw what they visualize Auggie looks like based on Via's description of him, as I read that portion again to them.  After they've finished drawing Auggie, I give the students a minute to share their drawings.  I take this opportunity to point out how important it is to use descriptive words in their writing, so their reader can create those mental pictures in their heads.  It's amazing how each student's portrait of Auggie is VERY similar.  Take a look...

After I've read Via's point of view, I share this video of the song Beautiful by: Christina Aguilera. 


Again, I have the student's write a response comparing the book to the song.  I follow the same procedures as the first response. Click here to grab the response.

We haven't finished the book yet, so stayed tuned!
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

And the PLOT thickens...

Ok, so I'm a little behind on my blog posts!  A few weeks ago, we were working on plot structure and I wanted to share with you what we did in my class.  A little warning...this is going to be a little long!

First, we discussed the elements of plot and the students glued plot notes into their reader's notebook.  

Click here to grab the notes the students glue into their reader's notebooks.  I usually shrink them to fit two on a page.

After we've discussed the elements of plot, I use a book that they are already familiar with to plot the events onto the story mountain (plot map).  We had previously read the book, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, to discuss theme and point of view.  So, I used this book to plot the events of the story onto a large story mountain that I printed from our plotter with the assistance of the students. (sorry, forgot to take pictures of this)

The next day, I read another story to them...My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother
Next, I split the kids up into groups.  They are given the events of the story and a large story mountain.  They have to place the events onto the story mountain.  This is the result...

The next day, I have the students get with a partner to read a story from Scholastic's Storyworks magazine.  Have you heard of it?  Love it!!!!  Unfortunately, it's a little expensive for a whole class set. However, I have a copy of the story we used.  Click here for the story and here for the questions.

Finally, before I assess them individually about what they've learned about plot structure, I put them into groups again.  This time they have to read a book, plot the events onto a large story mountain and teach it to the class.  Before they added the events onto the big story mountain, I had them create one in their reader's notebook.  As a review of skills previously taught, they had to tell us the point of view and theme of the story.  I figure if they are able to teach it, they've mastered it!  Take a look...

Wow!  That was an entire week worth of activities rolled into one blog post!
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Currently November

Last month I missed linking up with Farley @ Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently linky.  This month I wanted to make sure I didn't miss it! we go!

Listening- Since last Thursday was Halloween, I missed the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.  Thank goodness for OnDemand.

Loving-I love daylight savings time, especially when I get an extra hour of sleep.  I won't be so happy come the Spring when I lose that extra hour of sleep.

Thinking-It's WAY too early for Christmas lights.  My husband came home last night from our 1st Food Truck Date (Have you tried that?  Eating dinner from mobile food fun!) and noticed that several of our neighbors had their Christmas lights up AND on...people, it's only NOVEMBER 1st!!!

Wanting-I really need a mani/pedi and haven't had one in MONTHS!!!  I think I could really use a little pampering...I've been SUPER busy lately!

Needing-I really need to get my parent conference forms filled out!  Next Friday is an early dismissal day for us and the district gives us that one day to hold all our parent conferences.  Now, I only have 8 conferences scheduled, but my teacher partners have 8 or 9 each too!  This doesn't include the conferences before Friday.  I'm guessing I have about 40-45 conference forms to fill out...YIKES!!!

A Yummy Pin-I don't know what it's actually called, but I call it Popcorn's so addicting!!!
Here's the recipe...
Ingredients- 6-7 ounces (weight) white candy melts or white chocolate bark melted, 8-9 cups popped popcorn (microwave butter popcorn works best), lightly salted sprinkles in your favorite color Instructions- On a large baking sheet or bowl, gently mix in the melted white candy into the popped popcorn. Now for the sprinkles. Sprinkle the sprinkles before melted candy hardens.

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