Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spreading Christmas Cheer!

This year, in lieu of a traditional Christmas gift exchange between students (giftcards, books, secret santa, dirty santa, etc) We are going to be giving gifts to people around our school who might not otherwise be recognized. Each second grade class is giving gifts to a different set of people such as: related arts teachers, grade-level assistants, special education assistants, cafeteria staff, office staff, janitors, and bus drivers. For one week, we will recognize these people by giving them a small gift every day. Instead of buying gifts, students were asked to bring in supplies for these gifts. Here is the list of gifts we are giving this year:

Monday:  *a bag of Hershey Kisses (We wish you a Merry Kissmas!)
Tuesday: * a bag of popcorn and a coke (Popping in to wish you a Merry Christmas!)
Wednesday: * Hot Chocolate (Warm Wishes for a Merry Christmas!)
Thursday: * A single serving pack of Crystal Light Lemonade and a bottle of water
                     (You light up our Lives!)

My class is giving gifts to the bus drivers. Each day a group of 5 or so students will get to deliver the gifts to the bus drivers. I am so excited about doing this! When doing gift exchanges students often get upset because they do not get the gift they wanted, or get something they already have. This way all students get to GIVE a gift and no one will be upset about what they GET!

I have posted Christmas Gift Exchange Tags on my TPT store for FREE! If you like this idea and want to do this in your classroom Please feel free to use my tags! Click HERE to get the tags!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Books Online

As a new teacher, my classroom library is not yet where I would like for it to be. Although my library is steadily growing due to Scholastic Book Fairs, book orders, classroom donations, books being tossed by previous teachers, and the books I have purchased, I have found several resources for online books that I wanted to share with you! Some of them you may already be using in your classrooms, but I wanted to make a space where you could easily access books online.


Bookflix is an amazing resource! You have to purchase a subscription to use it, but it has TONS of books that come to life like cartoons. My students absolutely love Bookflix! We watch these during our snack time. With each fiction book, there is also a nonfiction book to go along with it. for example; the fiction book Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type comes with the nonfiction book Let's Visit a Dairy Farm. The books are seperated into categories that make it really easy to find what you are looking for.

This site is called Tumble books. Our local library has a subscription to this site and you can access it by clicking on the image above. TumbleBooks are animated, talking picture books which teach kids the joy of reading in a format they love. TumbleBooks are created by taking existing picture books, adding animation, sound, music and narration to produce an electronic picture book which you can read, or have read to you.

Storyline Online is a program by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. This website has members of the SAG do read alouds from great picture books. Each story also has activities and lessons. There is no membership required for this site.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

This site offers books for children to read online or have read to them. This would be a great site to use on an IPAD.

Arthur's First Sleepover

AOL kids offers great read alouds! the books are read aloud to the students. They are not animated, but they acually look like the pages in the actual books! This is a great reminder for students thats all of these online book sites are REAL books!

Barnes and Noble offers an online storytime where the books are read by the actual author. This is a great site to use during an author book study to hear the real author's voice!

I hope you find these sites as useful as I do! Please leave a comment if you use any of these sites or know of any other great sites you would like to share!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers vs. Teachers Notebook

Hello there! Boy has it been awhile! I promise to be back soon with happenings in my classroom and share some of my new items with you all, but today I wanted to write about the current questions I am having with TPT and TN. I have been a seller on TPT for almost a year now! I purchased the full membership this quarter and have been very pleased with my earnings so far. I am not a top seller or anything but I am very excited to see people purchasing my items and I have loved being able to share what I do in my classroom with so many people!

I have not yet set up a TN store, but I do notice that most of you bloggers have both a TN and TPT store. I like the idea of paying a minimal one time fee and you get your earnings immediately on your paypal account. My worry with TN is that I know it is not as popular as TPT. If you sell on both TPT and TN, do you lower the price of items on TN? Do you think it is a disservice to TPT to lower the price on something bc the percentage you recieve is higher?

I would love to hear some feedback on how TN stores are doing vs. TPT stores. I'm off to do a little investigating.... I'll let you know what I find :)

Okay so after a little searching back and forth between sites, I find that most sellers sale their products at the same price. I like this because it with holds the integrity of both sites and proves that the price of a product is related to the quality of the product itself and not the income of the seller.

I would also like to add that after searching throught TN, I love the way the products look on the site. You all have done a FABULOUS job creating pics to display your work! I usually only use TN to purchase clipart, but I will now be looking for their for other things too!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Freebie!!!

Freebie Fridays

I am linking up with TBA today to bring you a FRIDAY FREEBIE! YAY!! We have been learning about nouns this week. I made these posters that you can get here on my TPT store.
I used the posters that I made to introduce nouns. Here is what they look like:

Then I placed posters around the room with the same heading. I put the students into groups and had them carousel around the room and list as many nouns as they could thing of. Each group had 2 minutes at each poster. I had each group use a different marker. My groups worked out so that a different student got to be the "writer" at each poster. The students had a lot of fun brainstorming together and making the posters.

Next week we are going to be learning about proper nouns. I am going to have the students use post-it notes and write proper nouns for each poster. We will place these around the existing posters. Enjoy the weekend!

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Math Focus Board

I have really wanted to create bulletin boards this year that were educational and could be used as a reference daily for my students. I created Math and Reading Focus boards this summer, but when school started, and we started using them, they really didn't work for me like I wanted them too. Here are my original boards:

The Reading board worked okay for a little while, but I have remodeled it. I will post more about that one later. Today I wanted to post about the math board. It turned out, that this board did not work for me at all! I had to change the posters underneath the headings daily, which was a lot of work! I tried laminating construction paper and writing on it, but it got really messy.

I searched every blog I could find for a new Math Focus board. I found this one at Life in First:

I did my best to recreate this one... and just while typing this I noticed that I forgot to take a picture!!!
My board has the Math Talk section- this is where I write about the math vocabulary for the topic we are on. I also use the "Today's Problem" poster. Our Math series has a "Question of the Day." I use this section to post the question. Students answer on a post-it and stick it on the poster. With Common Core, we are really focusing on Higher Order questioning and writing in math. I use the essential question poster to post our question for each topic. Students also answer these on post-its. My students LOVE using their post-it notes! I did not use posters for months or days of the week. I use this space instead to post posters or other pictures or cut- outs that go along with our Topic. This week we are on Topic 5: Counting Money, I have put pictures of each of the coins on the board. I really wish I had remembered to take a picture of my board!! I love the way it turned out!

If you are an Envision Math user, you may be interested in the Essential Question Posters I have created for my focus board. You can get them at my TPT store by clicking HERE. The first pack includes an essential question for every lesson in Topics 1-10.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Freebie!

Hi everyone! Happy Friday! I am linking up with TBA to bring you a FRIDAY FREEBIE!!
Freebie Fridays

I have created this Fluency pack for use with centers, small groups, or homework. The freebie contains two Tic-Tac-Toe boards for reading fluency. Students have to read the same book three different ways to get a Tic-Tac-Toe. This could be used in centers for "Read to Self" or "Read with a Partner." You could use these in a small group setting as well. I also like the idea someone gave to me as using them for homework and having the child's parents initial the boxes when the student completes the reading activity. click on any of the pictures below to get the Freebie!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Light Bulb moments after meeting with our instructional coach!

Today was a very good GREAT day! Well it was Johnny Appleseed's Birthday which was a great start to the day. We taste tested different types of apples, made a chart of our favorite types of apples, we had a mini unit on adjectives and did a little project with apples and adjectives to describe them. I haven't been doing to well at taking pictures to share with my posts but I will do better!

The great part of the day came in the afternoon when we met with one of our district instruction coordinators. She is new to the position this year. She moved to our county from Texas two years ago and taught 5th grade in our county last year. I am very excited to have an instructional coordinator from a different place. I feel like she will have lots of new things to share with us!

One thing she mentioned is that in the district she came from in Texas, they were told to use the text books and provided curriculum as A resource, not the only resource!!! This idea is not new to me, this is what we were taught to do in all of my education classed in school. However, when I got my first job last year I found that all of the teachers teach with the reading series and never stray! BORING!!! I soon learned that the reason for this is because in our county, we have been told that we need to teach our reading and math series with fidelity, meaning that we were told to basically follow them verbatim. In both teacher manuals for reading and math, there are blue words that are basically a script for the teacher to follow. I was very shocked when we were told to "read the blue words!" You mean I went to college to read from a teacher manual? I could have done that right out of high school.

With the new Common Core standards though...... the tides are starting to turn! We were advised today that because our reading series is not aligned with common core we can use the material if we would like, or we can use other resources more aligned with common core! Yay!!! So, I am on a quest to find and create the best resources for common core! Wish me luck! If you know of any great blogs out there to help me please please please let me know! I am a seller on TPT and work on a lot of (in my opinion) great  products. However, I know that I will not be able to tackle this job on my own!

Oh, and I'd like to share a little "pat on the back" moment with you all! During our meeting, she asked us to share anything that we were doing in our classrooms that might be different from everyone else or that others might like to hear about. A co-teacher suggested I share about my Writer's Workshop, so I did. She was really impressed with what we were doing in our classroom and she loved it! She said that I was the first person in the county that she had heard of doing this! Yay me :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reaching Common Core through Writer's Workshop

So, I am sure that most of you are using the new Common Core Standards in you classroom this year. We started implementing them this year. When I looked at the Common Core Standards for Writing, I couldn't help but think that the writing portion of the standards is more about the writing process than standards we have had in the past. I started using Writer's Workshop in my classroom last spring, and my students loved it! Here is a brief overview of Writer's Workshop:

Writer's Workshop is what REAL writers do!
Writer's workshop is an  organizational structure that invites students to write by making the process a meaningful part of the classroom curriculum. Students learn to write daily through varied activities. In writer's workshop, students are exposed to the organization and thought required to create a story or write about a favorite topic and develop it into an understandable narrative with a voice and focus. Because they are allowed to choose the topic, students are motivated to create and complete works. Peer conferencing can become a central part to the creative process. The writer's workshop format includes story planning, revision, teacher editing or conferencing, and direct instruction in the conventions of English. This teaching technique allows students the opportunity to develop expression, revision strategies, and skill in writing, and encourages them to try a few new things during the revision process.
Writers Workshop can be paired with reading activities to create a powerful motivating, organizational structure when teaching literacy. Quality literature can become an essential source to model good writing, and a wise teacher will carefully choose books used as sources. In writing workshop, a teacher can quickly see a students vocabulary level, organization skills, their ability to learn, retain, and apply information, attention span, and how a student's abilities grow through the year.
There are generally four parts to Writer's Workshop. The first is a mini lesson. A mini-lesson is usually a 10 minute whole class activity. Mini lessons can vary from anything such as spelling techniques to teaching revision process. The next part of Writer's Workshop is "Status of the Class." I remade this board from to use in my classroom.
Status of the Class, is a time for the teacher to know where students are at in the writing process. This is also a good way for students to see who else is ready to revise and edit. This will help them to find a partner when it is time for the next step in Writer's Workshop- Writing and Conferencing. This is the part of writing workshop where most time should be spent. (about 20-40 minutes.) During this time, students work at their own pace. Students may be prewriting, drafting, revising and editing, conferencing with the teacher, or publishing a finished piece. The last part of Writer's workshop is Sharing or Author's Chair. This is the time when students get to share their published work. Author's Chair should last 5 to 10 minutes.
I have started implementing Writer's Workshop in my classroom this week. So far, so good! I will post more about the individual parts of WW in later blogs as well as share some of my mini lessons with you!
If you are ready to start learning more about Writer's Workshop and want to use it in your classroom then head on over to TPT and check out my "Learning Common Core through Writer's Workshop" packet.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall Means Apples

If you are a teacher like me, (which I'm sure you are or you probably wouldn't be reading this :) you LOVE fall! Fall means back to school, cooler weather, football, and of course... Johnny Appleseed!! and Johnny Appleseed means APPLES! I love apples! Growing up, my mother had our whole kitchen decorated with apple stuff. if there wasn't already a teacher in our school with an apple theme, I would totally do one! There is just something about apples. They are soooo classic teacher! Our first grade classes at our school do a big HUGE unit on Johnny Appleseed, so we as second grade teachers do not do much for this day. However, I cannot, as a teacher, go through September without even mentioning Johnny Appleseed or doing something fun with apples. Sooooo... I created this Apple Unit:
I had so much fun creating this! I love to think of new things that my students can do around a given theme. And what better theme for September than apples???? This product is available on my TPT store and you can get to it by clicking on the picture above. There are several Literacy, Math, and Science activities included in the unit. The last page of the unit is a list of other ideas to go along with the unit. I wanted to share those ideas with you today, because some of you may already have planned what you will do for your Johnny Appleseed Units, but these are just some more fun activities you could throw in :)
Here are the previews for my Apple Unit....

Head on over to TPT to check it out! I am also working on a Johnny Appleseed Crafitivity that I will be posting as a freebie.... hopefully TOMORROW!!!

Oh, P.S.... What do you think about me doing my first linky? I'm thinking of "Thinks My Students Say." My students are a HOOT this year! I am dying to share some of our funny stories and would love to hear some of yours! What do you think?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Inflected Endings

This week we are learning about inflected ending; -s, -ed, and -ing. This is always a really hard concept for my students to grasp. I think that the hardest part for my students is realizing that when you add "ed", you are not just adding a "d", but dropping the e and adding ed. This is a skill that we study twice a year. Last spring, I created this pack to teach inflected endings.
This product includes posters for teaching inflected endings such as adding ed and ing. Chants are also included that are helpful in teaching the rules for doubling consonants and dropping the silent e. There are also 2 games that are great for center or workstation activities. These games are super fun! My students loved them!
We learn these fun chants to help us remember the rules for inflected endings.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Tired Teacher!

Week 3 and I am beat!! How are you all managing? I have a great group of students this year! But.... I feel like I am starting to sink! We have so many new changes this year! The biggest change this year is that we have to give actual number grades for Science and Social Studies this year, which is something that I did not even have on my schedule last year. We taught some science and social studies along with our reading stories but that was about it. Now we are having to add in a time for teaching science and social studies. With that, I have not even started center rotations. I feel like I am falling behind. Here is an example of my class schedule:
I haven't done reading center rotations yet so I am not sure if that will be enough time. But I do know that there is no time for math centers in this schedule which is something I really wanted to do better at this year. What do you think? What do your schedules look like? Do you teach Science and Social Studies? If so, how do you fit it all in????

On a side note, I would like to share some of the things we have been doing in class. At the beginning of the year, we read No David! and did a whole group activity in which we listed what makes a good student. We then turned this into an anchor chart that I will use all year. We also did a David craftivity and wrote our school rules. This was a freebie on TPT and I am not sure who to give credit for it, but it was wonderful!!
 My favorite was don't be gross and distracting lol!

This week, we read Exploring Space with an Astronaut. During this story, we learn about the planets and the sun and moon. It is a really fun week! One activity we did, was to put the planets in order by distance from the sun on black bulletin board paper. The fun part comes when I tell the students to bring a pencil and their project to the carpet. once they get to the carpet, I tell them to start poking holes all over their paper. The students have no idea why they are doing this, but they have tons of fun stabbing their papers with their pencils. It literally sounded like a hail storm in my classroom! Then, when all of the students were gone, this is what I did.....

See the stars???? The kids were so excited to come back in from related arts and see these hanging from the ceiling! This is a very temporary project due to fire Marshall regulations but they are so cute and the students love seeing the stars and their work hanging from the ceiling. We use these as a reference all week when we are working with planets. Anytime the students ask me a question, I say look up :)