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 :)