Summer Recess (Part 2)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yesterday I hosted a Summer Recess for my class from last year, and it was AWESOME!  I had 24 kids in my class last year, and 13 of them showed up for the Summer Recess.  We played kickball, ate popsicles, and caught up on what they have been up to this summer.  I was really excited to see everyone and they seemed excited as well!  I also got a lot of positive feedback from the parents when they dropped the kids off and picked them up.

On a separate note, JoAnn’s has all of their wood products on sale this week.  I (of course) bought my READ letters last week when things weren’t on sale, so I thought I’d pass some information on to my readers so that you can benefit from the sale at least!  I think I’ll be heading there today to price adjust my purchase!

Monday Made It - Specials Signs

Monday, July 29, 2013

I love to draw and doodle and color and all of those creative type things.  So this week, I am featuring my specials signs for Tara’s Monday Made It feature.

In my school, we have five “special” classes: Art, Music, Gym (which the teacher insists on calling PE), Computer Lab, and Library.  To help the kids remember when each class is held, I put signs up in my classroom depicting the class name and the time it’s held.  Last year, I made these doodled signs and the kids really liked them.  I even saw them mimicking the style in their own drawings! (Pardon the glare...I laminated the signs, and they didn't photograph so well...) 

Unfortunately, I mounted the signs on green paper….which fit the theme I’ve had in my classroom for the last four years, but doesn’t fit my new theme idea.  I’m planning to redo my room in red, white, and blue with stars and stripes (because, I AM an American History geek, and I like the idea of carrying it into the room).  I’d still like to use these posters, so I may be remounting them in the two weeks before school starts this year…

On the blog, I also made something new....a feature called the Saturday Summary.  It will be a place for bloggers to link up a summary of their week.  It will let us get to know each other better and will introduce people to new blogs.  If you're interested, my first summary post is here so you can learn more!

Saturday Summary

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Today’s post is a new feature I’d like to start on my blog.  It’s called the Saturday Summary and is designed to let bloggers get to know each other and to highlight things that have been on their blogs throughout the week.  As part of the Saturday Summary, you can link to all of the week’s blog posts, but also share what you’ve been up to outside the classroom so we can get a peek into the lives of the bloggers we follow.

So, my week’s summary was pretty fun:

Last Saturday, I got to see America live as a part of my town’s summer festival!  It was a super fun concert! 

Then on Sunday, Plain White Tees performed at a shopping center in my town! (Didn’t get a good picture of them though)

This week, I attended a 31 party (and ordered a really cute new bag), hosted a Pampered Chef party, and worked in the classroom.

On the Blog:

Monday: MondayMade It

Friday: SummerRecess

What have you been up to this week?

Summer Recess

Friday, July 26, 2013

Last year, I had the best class in the world!  They were great kids and we were able to have a lot of fun while we were learning together.  As the end of the year neared, we decided that we would have a get together over the summer to see each other and catch up before they head to middle school this fall.

That brings us to….summer recess!  I sent an email to all of my parents yesterday explaining that we would gather on the school playground on Monday afternoon if they could make it for a summer recess/get together.  I am really excited to see my kids and have already heard back from about half the class!  Their parents are all saying how excited the kids are too, and I’m getting some good feedback from parents who also love the idea.

How do you connect with past students?

Setting Up the Classroom (Part 1)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Yesterday, I took some time and went to school to start setting up my classroom.  The room is clean and ready for me to work, so I braved the un-air conditioned building and got to work.  When I got to school, the room looked like this:

Everything was stacked in the middle, and I only had 24 desks, which won’t work for my (minimum of) 29 students this year.  So I dragged more desks in from an extra classroom, set the chairs, and put my small book shelves at the groups.  The finished product looks much better to me!

While there is still plenty to do in the room, I always feel better when it is set up and looking like an actual classroom instead of a storage room.  How is your progress going?

Social Media

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This summer, I have fallen into a routine of drinking my coffee, trolling Pinterest, and reading gobs of teacher blogs every morning.  After reviving my blog last week, I have tried to find ways to connect to other bloggers, but I haven’t posted about any of them…so here’s the post!

I am on Pinterest and have a school related board (along with several others).  If you’re interested in following me on Pinterest, I can be found here.

Blog Lovin’:
I also joined Blog Lovin’ this week, and have posted a button on the left side of the blog.

I have an Instagram account, but it is primarily for personal use (as opposed to “teacher stuff”).  If you’re interested in checking out my Instagram account, there is a button on the left side of the blog.

Teachers Pay Teachers:
I started my TpT store last week, and so far, I only have a few things for sale.  I plan to add more as time goes on, but for now, you can check things out here (and follow me while you're there!)

Book Genre Posters

As part of my Readers Workshop, I focus on the different genres of books that students can read.  Each month, they are required to read a book from a different genre and give a book talk about that book (see yesterday’s post about these here)

Before we start reading in the different genres, I start the year with a look at each of the different genres we will study.  I show several examples of each genre and then we take notes on the genres’ characteristics as part of the Reader’s Notebook.  These note pages provide the kids with a way to check which genre a book belongs to throughout the year.  In addition to the notes, I have posters about each genre displayed on our Reading wall.  I add the posters as we discuss the genres to help the kids visualize the genres a little better.  Each poster has the characteristics of the genre listed and has images specific to that genre as well.

I have these posters available in my TpT store (link to product), but as a special blog offer, I will email you the pages I use for genre notes if you email me or comment asking for them below.  The notes pages are simple, but they’re already created, and why reinvent the wheel, right?!

Book Talks (and a Freebie!)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Last year, I transformed my reading program and I absolutely loved the Readers’ Workshop structure that I was able to create in my classroom.  One part of the program that I enjoyed was the book talks I had the kids do.  Each month, the students in my room were required to read at least one book from a specific genre.  After reading that book, they had to give a book talk on the book.

Book talks (or book commercials) are simpler than the traditional book report, and the kids seemed to enjoy both giving and listening to them.  

So what is a book talk?  A book talk is like a commercial for a book that the students have read.  They are not long (only about two minutes in length).  During the book talk, students were asked to share:

* the book’s title and author
* the cover (or a picture of the cover)
* a little information about the characters and the problem in the story
* some interesting information from the book.
I created a handout with the basics of a book talk and a monthly genre calendar to give to the kids to include in their reading binder.  The handout is available in my TPT store for FREE! (link to product)

If you use Book Talks leave me a comment to let me know what they look like in your classroom!

Monday Made It – July 22, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Today I’m linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It linky event.  This week, I spent some time on a puzzle (one of my favorite time wasters).  I’m addicted to Revolution era and Constitutional history, and my mom bought me the coolest puzzles for Christmas.  I’ve actually done these puzzles twice, but the most recent completion was this week, so I figured they count for a Monday Made It!

The first is a puzzle of the Constitution. (Yes, I know I’m a geek, but I’m ok with it!)  This one was incredibly complicated, but I had a ton of fun doing it.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture of this one, which is a shame, because some of the pieces are shaped like states and the very center piece is shaped like the Liberty Bell, which looks pretty cool.

The second puzzle does have a picture.  This one shows all of the important events and places from the Revolutionary War.  This one was easier than the Constitution puzzle, but still took some time.  It was a lot of fun though!

Multiple Intelligences Survey

Friday, July 19, 2013

The beginning of the year is all about getting to know the new kiddos in your classroom, and creating a great classroom environment.  But in my classroom, I like the kids to get to know themselves a little better, so I use a Multiple Intelligences survey to help.  The kids read a series of statements and either check that the statement applies or leave it blank.  At the end of the document, they use a scoring guide to determine which of the eight multiple intelligences they display.

After the scoring is complete, the kids write their names on note cards and display their names next to the intelligence that they display.  We leave this display up for the first quarter as a reminder of the ways that we are similar and different in our learning styles.

Both of these items are available on my (brand new!) Teachers Pay Teachers store here:

Reading Response Journals

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Last year, I started using a Readers Workshop approach in my classroom after reading The Book Whisperer last summer.  I love the approach and found that my students grew as readers and developed a love for reading that I haven’t seen with other approaches.

While I loved the Readers Workshop method, I sometimes had trouble coming up with interesting and different prompts for the kids to use in their Reader’s Notebooks.  My goal for this year is to find more creative response prompts, and this morning I found a wonderful resource for that!  
The CaffeinatedLibrarian has a post on her blog called “The Best List of Reading Response Questions Ever” and after reading through the list, I must agree!  I copied the list into a MS Word document and it took nine and a half pages to list all of the prompt ideas!  There are several general prompts, but there is also a section divided into categories aligned to test readiness including: analyze, compare, contrast, define, describe, differentiate, discuss, evaluate, explain, identify, interpret, list, main idea, and outline.

I plan to use several of these prompts in the upcoming year, and hope they can be helpful to you as well!

A Little Pinspiration

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My morning routine this summer has become a pretty established pattern of drinking coffee and trolling Pinterest for new ideas for my classroom.  Last week, I came across a wonderful site for third through sixth grade teachers (which was a nice treat!).  The board – Teaching UpperElementary – is dedicated to ideas for teachers in third through sixth grade classrooms.  This was a great find for me because the general “Education” board has a ton of ideas for primary classrooms, and while they are super cute, they aren’t very helpful or applicable to my classroom. 

The creator of this board has not only established a place for upper elementary teachers to share ideas, but has taken it a step farther to ask that you pin two to three free items or ideas for every paid item.  This is somewhat refreshing in a time when so many ideas are linked to a Teachers Pay Teachers site.

Back to Blogging

Monday, July 15, 2013

Like many other teachers out there, I’ve spent my summer trolling Pinterest for new ideas to use in my classroom.  Through my pinning, I have found several teacher blogs that have given me ideas and inspiration for my teaching this coming year.  A few years ago I started this blog as part of a grad school assignment, but I enjoyed the process.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and I stopped blogging.  After reading so many inspirational teacher blogs, I have decided to reignite my blogging interest and start this back up.  I hope I’ll be able to inspire or aid others in the way that I’ve been helped by the blogs I’ve read.
Because it’s been two years since I last posted, I’m going to start by linking you to a few of my most viewed posts to give you an idea of who I am as a blogger.  Then in the coming days, I’ll be posting some of my new work and some of the things I’ve been developing over the past two and a half years.

DRTA is a comprehension strategy that guides students in asking questions about a text, making predictions, and then reading to confirm or refute their predictions. The DRTA process encourages students to be active and thoughtful readers, which enhances their comprehension. The DRTA model actually consists of three parts: D – Direct, R – Read, and T – Think. The process of those three combine to make the A – Activity.

This is a chapter summary from Jeffrey Wilhelm’s book Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry. [Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. (2007) Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry. New York, NY: Scholastic.]  In this chapter, Wilhelm introduces us to authorial reading, a concept directly connected to the social nature of reading that encourages the reader to interact with the author while reading a text. Through the process of authorial reading, readers use the understandings that the author has put into the text to create a better understating of his/her own.

This is another reflection on reading, but this time from Cris Tovani’s book Do I Really Have to Teach Reading [Tovani, Cris. (2004) Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.]  In this post, I looked at chapters one and four in the book to describe strategies for reading nonfiction and content area text: Reading is an individual experience, and it is a different experience for every individual. Reading nonfiction and content-area text is especially different for every person. However, there are some strategies that all successful readers use, even if they use the strategies differently. Cris Tovani points out that you have to ask questions as you read, but that they have to be questions that you really care about and are curious about.
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