Saturday, September 29, 2012

The 5 Ways to Be

This summer I learned all about Whole Brain Teaching and I absolutely love it!  The one thing that I just couldn’t bring myself to do though was to give up my classroom “rules” to switch over to the WBT ones.  For the past 8 years, I have used The 5 Ways to Be.
There they are hanging from the ribbon in my classroom.  I love the 5 Ways to Be because they aren’t really “rules,” but more of a way of living life every day.  They cover pretty much any classroom or playground scenario a kiddo could think of.  We spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year learning about the 5 Ways.  On the first day we do a carousel cooperative learning activity and make looks like, sounds like charts.  We talk about what each of the 5 ways would look like and sound like in our classroom and other places around school.  These charts then hang in a high profile area (near the drinking fountain) part of the room all year.  We spend a lot of time talking about them and getting gentle reminders throughout the year about being the 5 Ways. 
I have been playing around trying out some new things on my new laptop and created these colorful polka dot posters for the 5 Ways. 
5 Ways to Be-bright
You can grab them by clicking on the picture or downloading them for free at my TpT store!

Fall Sale!

Fall Sale

Hop on over to my little TpT store and stock up!  Here’s hoping this brings a little fall weather to the desert!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Plural Nouns….and a stoplight?

We are a family of educators.  My husband is also a teacher.  He teaches one of the best. classes. ever. in high school…..Driver’s Ed.  Talk about easy classroom management.  He gets to dangle a driver's license in front of their nose.  What teenager is going to mess with him?  All kidding aside though, he is an amazing teacher and really loves his job.  So, what does that bit of info have to do with this post?  Well, I was thinking that it was fitting that I used a driving analogy while teaching my students how to write plural nouns.  I have been using this method for about 8 years now and I love it. 
Green light nouns are most nouns.  You can just add s and keep on moving.  Yellow light nouns (my stoplight has 2 yellow lights) are the nouns that you have to slow down and use caution.  They have rules that you have to follow.  Red light nouns nouns are the irregular nouns.  You need to stop, think, and change the spelling!  I make a foldable with my class as we learn these and then we do LOTS of practice!
The stoplight noun foldable is part of my plural nouns pack available here at my TpT store. 
On a side note, I was asked by my principal this year to be our grade level leader (we have a fairly large grade level, there are 5 sections of third grade).  I am curious.  How often do you meet as a grade level?  If you are the G.L. leader at your school, what do you do for your team?  What does your team leader do for your team?  I don’t feel like I am doing a very good job right now, but I also don’t want to appear to “know it all,” or like I am trying to make everyone do the things I do.  Just curious and wanted to hear what teacher blog land has to say!
Have a Happy Wednesday Night!

Monday, September 24, 2012

“Bring it on Monday…”

So, I checked facebook this morning and saw that my friend was having a rough Monday morning.  She ended her post by saying “Bring it on Monday, you can’t scare me.”  Here is my response to that friend.  Please don’t ever again challenge Monday.  Monday will always win.  A little bit of fear is healthy.
The morning started out just fine.  Then the announcement came over the P.A. system.  All music classes cancelled for the day.  There was a shortage of subs and would be no class, so no prep.  Not that bad I know, I’ve had worse Mondays and I won’t go into personal details, but my poor friend’s Monday made mine look like a walk in the park.
So, what to do with a class of 29 third graders and no break.  Monitor and adjust as my fellow teachers know!  I moved tomorrow’s super fun science activity to this afternoon and let me tell you, for 35 minutes those third graders were working hard and having fun!  What were they so excited about?  Eating Earth’s layers!  We have just finished up learning about the layers of the Earth and they were so excited about today’s activities.  We made our Earth s’mores, compared the layers of our “s’mores,” to the layers of the Earth and then wrote the recipe with step by step instructions.  So, while they were having a blast and enjoying a yummy treat, they were actually reviewing the layers of the Earth and writing functional text!  I’d say that was a good use of our time!
The activities came from my Earth’s Layers…An Edible Activity packet available at my TpT store. In honor of Monday winning this battle, you can purchase this packet at a discounted price for a limited time! Click the link here to find the packet.
Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fluency Friday….and a Giveaway!

Every Friday in our room is “Fluency Friday.”  I LOVE routines and so do so many of my kiddos.  They love to know what is coming next and exactly how do it.  Our fluency routine is a great 5 minute fluency practice that we do each week.  I start teaching them the routine early in the year by introducing one thing fluent readers do each week.  That is then our focus for our practice. 
We start out on the carpet reviewing the things that fluent readers do.  We then move to our seats and get our “Fluency Folders,” out.  Our folders have our passages and our fluency graph.  The students put on their “fluency ears,” to help block out their neighbor’s voice and I time them as they read aloud for 1 minute.  As they are reading, if they come to a word they don’t know they circle it.  I walk around the room listening to them read and jotting down notes.  When I say stop, they draw a line after the last word they read.  We then talk about a few of the words that I noticed circles around and read the passage again for 1 minute.  After the second read, they count up how many words they read and I ask them 2 questions for comprehension.  The last part of our routine is their favorite!  In their folder they keep a graph where they chart each week how many words they read.  They LOVE watching the bar graph go higher each week and celebrating their hard work!
I have put together a packet of all of the things I use in my weekly fluency routine.  It includes posters with the 3 things we review each week and includes an explanation of the hand movements we use as we say them (love WBT…I will have more to say about that in another post!).  There are 2 sets of posters, one with cute little monsters that I just couldn’t resist, and another more traditional set.  Also included are the parent letter I send home, a fluency folder cover, and a few different graphs.  Not included are the actual fluency passages.  I use the ones that came with our reading series.
Fluency Friday
The “Fluency Friday,” packet is available at my TpT store here….but I am giving away  free packets to the first 2 people who comment on this post and become a follower

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Multiple Meaning Words……FREEBIE

This week’s vocabulary skill was multiple meaning words.  I wish I could say that I am an amazing artist but we all know pictures don’t lie.  I am terrible.  My daughters had a good laugh when they walked in my room after school and saw my attempt at drawing a bat.  My oldest tried to fix it for me, but it was too far gone.  Anyways, you get the idea and my loving students complimented me on my effort!  We made this anchor chart together as we talked about what multiple meaning words are and how the meaning of the word changes depending on how you use it in a sentence.  They had the best time coming up with their own examples of multiple meaning words. 
Afterwards, the students went back to their desks and picked a word out of the basket.  They had to write 2 different meanings for the word and then use the word in a sentence for each meaning.  Then we did a “gallery walk,” around the room to see everyone’s work. They spent the rest of the week pointing out all of the multiple meaning words they saw in books or heard people use.  Just another one of the many reasons I love third graders…..they are still so excited about their learning!   The anchor chart pieces and worksheet are available in my TpT store as a free download.  If you are interested you can get them here!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Classroom Management

Today I am linking up to The First Grade Derby to discuss my favorite reward or incentive.  Last year I implemented the clip chart and I absolutely, positively L.O.V.E. it.  I love to be positive and I love to recognize students who are behaving appropriately and setting a good example.  I like that the clip chart gives the students who continually display great character something to aim for.  I have found that when I use those students as a positive example I almost immediately get the same behaviors out of all of my class. I also feel like I am not constantly pointing out the negative behaviors that occur.
As a special reward for making it all the way to pin,k students get to punch their behavior card at the end of the day.  I hang on to everyone’s card in a box on the desk.  When they fill their punch card they get to pick a prize coupon from the prize catalog.  The best part of the prize catalog is that it doesn’t cost me a thing.  There have been years when I felt like half of my paycheck went back into my classroom!  The punch cards and prize pass catalog were an amazing Pinterest find from First Grade Fever and the BEST part…..they are FREE!  Just click on the link to find them! 
I happen to think that my students are amazing and I love to celebrate how amazing they are!  Can’t wait to hear what everyone else is doing!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Place Value Fun

Update: I have added Beat the Teach to my TpT store. You can purchase it here!

Our first math unit of the year is Place Value.  One of my favorite ways to practice comparing and ordering numbers is with a fun game that I call “Beat the Teach.”  Each student gets a place value tent and a deck of digit cards (they have 2 of each digit in the deck).  The goal of the game is to make a number than is greater than mine.    We shuffle our cards, place them face down in front of us, and then clap three times and say draw.  After drawing the digit card you must decide where to place it in the number.  Once a digit card is placed it is frozen and they aren’t allowed to move it.  It is a great way for them to think about and evaluate the value of digits in a number. 

After clapping and drawing 6 digits, I reveal the number I made.  The students then have to compare their number to mine and see if they “Beat the Teach.”
I love this game because so many place value skills are being reinforced.  They have to compare their number to mine, they have to read their 6 digit number, and many times I will have them order their numbers at their tables from greatest to least or least to greatest.  You could also have them round their numbers or compare numbers with their shoulder partners.  After they really get the hang of the game I will even spice it up by having them make the greatest even number or the greatest odd number.  There are so many twists you can put on it and it makes a great little math center! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Book That Changed Me......

For years I dreading teaching writing.  I loved to read stories that other people wrote but I had no idea how to teach children to write them.  Pick a character and tell what happened, right.  When students struggled I struggled to help them.  About 7 years ago my former principal introduced us to this book......
You can find it here on Amazon.  This book completely changed the way I teach writing.  It is broken up into parts of a good story and uses examples from professional authors.  She tells you step by step how she teaches it and her ideas and lessons are fun and engaging.  My students grow somuch as writers each year. 

Last week we started learning about "Compelling Beginnings," and already I have seen such improvement in their writing journals.  The book has several different compelling beginnigs, but as a grade level we picked three to focus on that we felt were the most age appropriate for our kiddos.  We started making our "Entertaining Beginnings," foldable book, and have worked on sound effect beginnings (always the third grade favorite) and action beginnings.  We will move onto dialogue beginnings next week. 

I start by introducing the beginning.  We practice several whole group, we practice on our whiteboards, we roll our story dice to change the setting and practice some more.  Finally, I give them some to practice on their own so that I can assess their learning.  You can find the practice I made for sound effect beginnings here.  I no longer dread teaching writing, in fact it is now a part of our day that I look forward to.  Would love to hear from any of you who have used this book and what you think about it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Classroom Pictures....Finally

Here they finally classroom pictures. 
This is my Daily 5 area.  I have all of the supplies they need for Read With Someone, Word Work, and Work on Writing.  On the board are our anchor charts for each choice and hanging on the wall are their clothespins for making choices.  The bucket has their reading buddies for Read to Self time.  We will be adding Listening to Reading soon and I will post about it!
I saw this idea on Pinterest and just knew that I needed to add it to my room!
In this area I have "The 5 Ways to Be," which are our classroom's version of rules.  We spend a lot of time the first few days of school talking about these and what they look like and sound like.  I have used them for the last 8 years and love them.  They are so positive and character building and cover pretty much anything you can think of!  I started to clip chart last year and fell in love with it.
I love having room and a special place for my anchor charts!  My kiddos have already learned how much their teacher loves chart paper and Mr. Sketch markers!
My Math board and "Help Wanted," jobs board. 
I could have done a better job taking pictures but I hope you get a feel for my room.  I love the way it looks and how functional it is!  I know there aren't any pics of the actual space and student area but with 29 (yes, you read that correctly....29!) desks there isn't a whole lot of leftover space.  It's a good thing that the kiddos are still small and that we all like each other because it can feel like tight quarters! 


My Love Affair.....

I am in L.O.V.E. with my Silhouette Cameo.  I promise to post pics of my classroom when the long weekend is over and I can get in there with my camera.  I redecorated my entire room this year and did it all with my Silhouette!  I think I only spent 30 dollars at the teacher store this year.  The rest was just scrapbook paper, cardstock, and vinyl.  And of course, a little Pinterest inspiration! 

How was I so blessed to get my hands on this amazing machine?  Well, let me tell you about my amazing classroom moms that I had last year.  I am so blessed every single year with the best volunteers and last year was no different.  I had at least one volunteer a day, sometimes two!  One of my moms is craft obsessed like me and we sort of bonded over our love of mod podge!  She got a new Silhouette Cameo for Christmas and was raving about it.  Anyways, teacher appreciation day came around in May and my class pitched in and surprised me with a Silhouette of my own!  Can you believe it!  Let me just tell was love at first sight.  As soon as I got home that night I plugged that baby in and got to work!  It was so easy and user friendly and there are so many helpful tutorials out there.  It has been 4 months now and the love affair continues.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Made It #2

Okay,  I am sure you are wondering what my Oatmeal muffin has to do with school.  I don't know about you all, but I am always looking for a way to make my mornings run smoother.  Enter these Baked Oatmeal Cups filled with yummy goodness.  The recipe makes a whole bunch and I freeze them.  Each night as I get my coffee maker ready for the morning, I grab one out of the freezer and put it in the fridge.  In the morning I pop it in the oven to warm it while I shower and get ready.  Then....yummy, cinnamony, chocolatey goodness.  I make them on the weekend and one batch will last for about 2 weeks.  45 minutes on a weekend morning and I have a healthy breakfast to look forward to each morning! 

Baked Oatmeal Cups

2 eggs
2 cups applesauce
1 banana mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Stevia
5 cups oats
1/4 cup flaxseed
1 tbsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
mini chocolate chips
2 1/2 cup coconut milk (you can use regular milk, I prefer coconumt milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and stevia together in a bowl.
Add in oats, salt, baking powder, flax and cinnamon and mix well.
\Pour in milk and combine
Spray muffin tin and pour mixture evenly into cups.
Bake 30 minutes.
To freeze:  wrap each oatmeal cup in plastic wrap and store in freezer bag.


Monday Made-It #1

This is it!  My first Monday Made It and my first attempt to link up.  I have seen this idea around Pinterest....I know all of my co-workers are thinking, of course she did!  My classroom has earned a reputation around campus, it is known as the Pinterest inspired room.  I will post pics soon.

Anyways back to my made it, I made these boards to help organize the groups I will be pulling for guided reading during our Daily 5 time.  I like for my groups to be fluid and flexible, so I think these will work great.  I used cookie sheets from the Dollar Tree ( they are magnetic) and spray painted them black.  I then picked out scrapbook papers to match my room decor and cut it to size.  I mod podged (is that a real verb?) the paper onto the cookie sheet and then cut red vinyl with the days of the week.  Now they are just waiting on my BIL to drill holes in them so that I can hang them with some pretty ribbon!  My next plan is to make each kiddo a magnet with their name on it so that I can move them around onto the days I will be meeting with them. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

I did it.......

For months now I have been stalking teacher blogs, following my favorites, and loving all of the ideas out there.  In the back of my mind I kept thinking....I can do that, I SHOULD do that.  I love what I do, I love sharing ideas, and I love getting feedback.  Well, I have run out of excuses and so here I am.  I have a student teacher this semester, and let me just tell you, she is A.MAZ.ING.  She has "it."  "It" is hard to put into words, but you can just tell when she is up there doing her thing that she is loving every minute of it.  She looks right at home. 
Now, here is the downside.  I like to think that I am irreplacable.  I like to think that without me running the show it will simply fall apart and my kiddos will be lost.  I don't think that is going to be the case. So, I have some time to get creative.  Time to work on some units and put together some things that I haven't had time to do.  So....The Blessed Teacher finally becomes a reality.  My goal is to share some of the amazing and positive things going on in our schools today, and to share some ideas and things I have learned over the past 10 years.  I am by no means an expert, I still have a lot to learn, but I have had the privilege of learning from some gifted educators and I am excited to begin this new journey!