Sunday, September 30, 2012

Halloween Themed Reading Graphic Organizers

Oh my word friends, my students LOVE reading any seasonal book.  Doesn't matter what the holiday or season, they love them.  I think it's because of the connections they can make while reading, but whatever the case, seasonal books can get some of my most reluctant readers reading.  

I've collected lots of Halloween books from book orders and check out a large collection from the library.  I can hardly keep my kiddos hands off them.  Since a majority of the Halloween books I check out or own are below their reading level, I've usually required my kiddos to fill out a graphic organizer on the seasonal books they read.  Since my kiddos are usually so motivated to read the books, their organizers are of top notch quality.  This practice is highly beneficial for me as a  reference of high quality work later in the year, plus I've always found my kiddos can always benefit from independent graphic organizer completion.  

Yesterday while watching my Buckeyes' nail biting one point win, I created some graphic organizers to use with my kiddos for our Halloween book collection. 
Skills reviewed are: sequencing, story mapping, making connections, character traits, asking questions, main idea and detail, somebody wanted but so, and character cause and effect.  There are eleven different organizers in all and I have options for primary writing lines for my first and second grade teacher friends. :) 

I plan on keeping multiple copies of each organizer in a binder separated by tabs in my classroom for easy access for my kiddos.  I always give my kiddos a STAR Card, one of my school's PBS rewards, for high quality graphic organizers.  Considering our reward cart is coming around again at the end of October, I think I'll be reviewing lots of graphic organizers! :) 

However in your classroom, the possibilities are endless.  You can use these organizers for ANY book you read in October, what kiddos doesn't like Halloween clip art, for Halloween books you read together as a class, or for readers response journals.  I hope your kiddos love them as much as I think mine will! :) They are available at both of my stores, and are part of my fall TpT sale this weekend. 

Would you like to win a copy of your own?  Just leave a comment below with your email.  The first person to correct guess my favorite Halloween candy will have a free copy sent their way! :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend my friends!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Fall Ya'll Sale

Oh my goodness ya'll, I LOVE fall.  I'm sitting on my comfy couch loving the crisp air coming through the windows and my pumpkin spice coffee.  I can hardly wait to go out and purchase our fall candles and decor for our new house. :)  Since I love fall so much much, I'm having  Happy Fall/End of the Quarter sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just click on the sale picture above or the cheerleader below to check out my store.  :) 

Happy shopping and happy weekend! :) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What Works for Me Wednesday{Take Time for You}

Today's What Works for Me Wednesday is pretty simple.

This past weekend, my husband and I got away.  We went to Columbus for an Ohio State game and had an amazing time.  We drove up Friday night and had a great time.  We spent Saturday at the game and hanging out at our favorite Columbus spots, and went to some outlets on our way home on Sunday.  

I left my teacher bag and laptop at home, and just enjoyed my husband.  

It made me a better teacher this week.  I've been more relaxed, focused, and well happy.  

Quite simply, in business of our jobs and our to do lists that never end, don't forget to take time for YOU.  Pick a night during the week and leave the teacher bag at school or in your car during the week, and if possible, once every few weekends, do as little school related work as possible.  Go explore a local museum, get ice cream with your family, watch a marathon of your favorite TV show.  Just do something for you. 

It might be hard, but you owe it to yourself, your family, and your mental well being to take time for you.  You owe it to yourself, your family, and your school kiddos.

Turning off the school brain is not easy, but it's so so worth it. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Works for Me Wednesday: Pack Up and Dismissal

One of the things I love about blogging is how it forces me to be really reflective about what happens in my classroom.  This class, more so than any other, responds well to things I never thought they would.  So I'm hoping on Wednesdays to share a tip from my own classroom that's working for me.  This allows me to remember all the unique things that motivate my kiddos to use throughout the year and hopefully pass along something useful to you! 

One thing my class really struggled with this year is packing up for dismissal.  I teach right up to the very end of the day, leaving about five minutes for packing up.  Luckily, most of my kiddos pack up fast, so our struggles at this time of the day always had to do with our voices, hands, and feet AFTER they packed up.  

Then it hit me, to have my pick ups and on site after school care pack up first.  They sit on the carpet once they are packed up, freeing up space in my teeny tiny classroom for everyone else to unpack, and then I do a little competition of boys versus girls to see who packs up first.  The competition is always who is the quietest. :) I love having my after school care/pick up group pack up first because they are ready and all together when their bell rings.  I can then calmly dismiss them, and they are headed upstairs before the mass exodus of classrooms to the bus when the final bell rings. :)

Once the after school care/pick up bell rings and they head to where they need to go after school, I have about three minutes that I could only describe before as chaos.  My kids thrive off of and need structure, so I needed to plan something.  Secret trash was out because sweeping the floor is a behavior reward for one of my most challenging kiddos.  

Enter the Game of Statues.  I love it.  One of my pumpkins shared it with me, and I can't thank her enough for teaching it to us!  To start the game, I call out "Ready Set Statue!" Then my kiddos strike a pose, and have to stay super still.  I pick the best statue to be the next judge.  This kiddos goes to the door and calls out "Ready Set Statue" and the game continues.  The kiddos get super quiet and super still and the judge picks the best statue to be the next judge.  We play until the bus bell rings, anywhere from 3-5 minutes, and my kids love it.  The end of the day has gone from one of our craziest, most stressful times of the day to one of our best! :)

I hope you'll give the Game of Statues a try in your classroom! I think you and your students will love it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Focus Walls in my Classroom!

Even though they aren't common place in my district, I love, love, love having a focus wall.  I've always had one for ELA, but this year I have one for math as well.  

I love having a focus wall because everything we are learning for the week is visible and accessible!
In my tiny classroom, I have a whole wall of blackboards in the back of my room.  Yes, blackboards.  One is covered in a dry erase contact paper, thank goodness, and they have become my focus walls.  Having a designated space for these resources also keeps our tiny classroom more organized and a little less cluttered!

The picture above is my ELA focus wall.  It has our weekly story title, our genre of the week, our comprehension skill, spelling words, vocabulary words, authors purpose, and writing.  Since my room is teeny tiny, I've been hanging up our class generated anchor charts for our weekly comprehension skill there too.  Everything is super crunched together, but it works. 

Man, I love a good anchor chart but I hate looking at mine sometimes compared to ones from other blogs/Pinterest!  Oh well!

I really love having everything together in one place.  My focus wall reminds me so often to discuss author's purpose of our story with my kiddos and the type of writing it is almost daily.  If these resources aren't hanging up, I'll forget!  It's also a powerful tool for my students, but they are slowly learning that if they need to know how to spell a spelling word, it's on the focus wall.  It's also powerful during pop in administration observations.  Often they ask our kids what they are learning, I've had many a kiddo point to something on the focus wall when talking to an administrator. 

For math, we're still working out the kinks.  I've always had math resources for my kiddos displayed (think 100s charts, key words posters, etc) but I've really been trying to put our current content vocabulary up and any anchor charts we've made together in our math focus wall space. 

I hope you enjoyed a sneak peak into how I set up focus walls in my classroom! The more I train my kiddos that these resources are there, the more they use them. :) 

I'm off to watch a country music special on TV! Goodness, I love country music.  :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Treasures Readers Response Prompts Freebie

First things first, congratulations to Karen from A is for Apple, B is for Blog for correctly guessing how many years I've been teaching on my last post! I will be emailing you My Place Value to the Hundred Millions Daily Review product after I hit publish!

After four weeks of school, I think we will finally have a routine to follow next week.  While I love my kiddos, this school years beginning has been anything but smooth.  Finally, next week we have a normal week.  Title One reading has started, our intervention aides start next week, and I *think* we've found a good balance between my class and their special education teachers class for my ED students beginning on Monday, meaning we can really, really hit the ground running.  

Since next week will be a "normal" week, I plan on starting to add response questions from our reading series to our readers response notebooks.  I first blogged about my reading response notebooks {here} 

We've been doing mini lessons on good responses with our read a loud Fudge a Mania last week, and will be starting to use them tomorrow.  Doing mini lessons and constructing responses on a common text has made a huge difference in getting my kiddos excited about their readers response journals and many of them can't wait to get their hands on them tomorrow! :)

Formative assessment and reflecting on student work is a huge thing in my district, and while looking over our first two reading tests, I could tell that we need some extra practice in responding to questions about the text, especially when it comes to restating the question.  So I created some readers response questions to go with our weekly story from our reading series.  Thanks so much to Courtney for the inspiration!

Here is a little sample of what one would look like in a journal! 
Here is a little peek at a page of questions for  The Astronaut and the Onion. I've included lots of different questions for each story.  I won't use all of them, but it's nice to have a variety!
If you'd like a copy, just click {here} to download! The background will appear once you download the actual file.  Also, there is no need to ask me to share anything from my Google Drive.  If you would like to download a file, just go to file and click on download! Easy peasy!

If you download, I'd love it if you either followed my blog or left me a comment.  Thanks! :)

Enjoy your Sunday! I hope to be in more a posting routine soon, now that the house is unpacked and school is getting into a more normal routine! :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Place Value to the Hundred Millions Daily Review

Oh my word ya'll.  We're currently studying place value.  To the hundred millions.  It's scary at times because those numbers are big, not easily represented with manipulitives, and well...big. 

We are trucking along, slowly, but after reviewing some of my formative assessments, I could clearly see my whole class could benefit from a targeted daily review.  I used to do a fully blown math meeting a l a Hope King last year when I taught second grade, it was perfect for filling gaps/holes.  However, this year our schedule doesn't really allow for a full blown meeting, but my kiddos DO need a targeted math review of concepts daily.  

So last night, I created four weekly reviews that cover all of our key place value standards.  

These are perfect for bell work, morning work, or homework.  I sent one home today as part of my kiddos weekly homework and have my kiddos work on each day's problem/skill when they come back in from recess.  We started today and we loved it! Quick enough that we can get started on math quickly but still meaty enough that it makes a big difference. :)   Here's a little sneak peak. :)

This daily four week review is available in both of my stores. 

Want to win a copy?  You can! The first person who leaves a comment that correctly guesses how many years I've been teaching wins their very own copy! :)  Don't forget your email address!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Currently September

Well look who it is, it's ME blogging on my blog! I certainly hope you enjoyed my guest posters while I was gone.  Our new home is finally unpacked and I'm blogging from my fabulous home office, and what better way to get back in the swing of things than by linking up with the one and only Farley?

In other news, my fourth graders and I survived our first week and half of school! I'll be back with a full recap, but after many nights of working on home tasks until after midnight, locking myself out of my house one day before work, and an endless mountain off back to school paperwork, I was beginning to think I might not! PTL y'all for coffee and Coke Zero! I am loving that the boxes are unpacked and I can get "caught" up today! My new home office and I are about to become very good friends! :)

Photo: Labor Day, Shhhmaybor Day. Brutus is at work today! 
Watch Coach Meyer's press conference at 11:45 am today on
Happy Labor Day!

Ohio State won their first game with Urban Meyer as head coach yesterday! :)  Go Bucks! I just can't wait until the end of the month, when my hubs and I get to go a game at the most wonderful place on Earth, Ohio Stadium!  I just love this picture of Blogging Brutus! :)

Enjoy your days off friends, I hope most of you do have them off! I'll be back this week to share some fun stuff with you, promise! :)
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