Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inferring Character Traits!

I've been insanely busy, so I haven't had much time to delve into creating any units lately, and my Debbie Diller book has been on hold until I know what grade I'm teaching next year and what subjects I'll be teaching.  So, I've just sort of dabbled here and there.  I can't wait to kick it into a higher gear once I find out what next year has in store for me.

In the process of cleaning out files and dabbling,  I've recreated two documents that were influenced by Beth Newingham... the queen of third grade.  {I totally want to be like Beth when I grow up! She is so innovative without compromising rigor or relevance, and I am continually amazed by her ideas.}  The documents can be used to teach how to infer character traits by studying action and dialogue in mentor texts.  This is a great way to scaffold students towards showing and not telling in their own writing as well!  I hope you can find them useful! Just click the links to access the documents!

Thank you to everyone who commented about Reading Street and basals yesterday!  If I make it through to a second interview, I will most likely have more questions!  :)  Today's the BIG DAY!  I think I can... I think I can.. I think I can!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pack the Suitcase! {FREEBIE}

I survived my first big professional development endeavor!  Yesterday was the big day!  Overall, I'm pleased with how it went, although I certainly learned a thing or two about pacing for next time.  :)  It was difficult to manage the time in a room with no clocks when my PowerPoint was up, and I couldn't see the clock on my computer screen.  I guess it's time to wear a watch again!  I had had the opportunity to share a few things at the district level over time, but this was a whole other ball game.  Having an hour to speak in front of roughly 120 people was a totally new experience for me!  All in all though, I'm satisfied.  I made a few contacts in other districts which is great, especially since I'm job searching.  I'm also really excited to be offered the opportunity to work on our K-5 Literacy team at the county (soon to be regional) level next year.  Stark County is pretty big, so I am humbled and excited about this opportunity.  I'm certainly the little fish in a big pond.  I was the only teacher presenter, and all of the other presenters either worked at the county level or on the Ohio Support Team.  So, I'm definitely a pretty small fish.  :) I have to say THANK YOU to everyone who previewed my presentation!  You gave me so much peace of mind going into this.  :)  I love our bloggy community!

Yesterday morning, I had the chance to attend two different workshops about reading nonfiction and the common core writing standards (which thankfully really led into my presentation).  I picked up a few more ideas, but I haven't really had time to process them, because I am exhausted.  It's been a big week between my presentation, buying a new car, attending a full day in-service on the Common Core Standards on Tuesday, and driving to Pittsburgh for a doggy arthroscopic surgery on Monday.  {It turns out that my precious little fur baby K-Fed has elbow dysplasia in both elbows and had a dislodged bone in his cartilage.  This means that I have been on "mommy patrol" to make sure that he doesn't hurt himself now that he's all stitched up.}  This week has been total madness! 

I'm hoping to be able to share more once things slow down a little bit for me.  I'm still trying to find time to read Math Work Stations, but I haven't had any time to pick it up this week.  So, instead of math goodies, I'd like to share an idea that I picked up from my new reading consultant buddy Joe yesterday.  It's a strategy for helping students determine importance, especially in nonfiction texts.  It may help to have students think about what's most important to take with them when they go on trips, and what they can leave behind.  {This actually kind of fits into my immigration lesson strangely enough.}  It's always nice to build schema and start with something very ego-centric since that's the stage most of our students are still in when they come to us.  Starting with "me" always seems to bridge gaps in comprehension!  After the short intro, you can introduce a short piece of text to the students and read it together.  Then, the idea is that the students will work independently or with groups to determine importance, write them on notecards, and pack their "suitcases"...small manila envelopes.  Eventually, the "suitcases" get pruned down, and the students "travel" to areas of the room to share with partners.  After a few minutes, the whole class gathers to share out the most important facts from the selection.  Isn't that fun?  If you'd like to have my version of this lesson, you can snag a freebie below! Teacher directions are included in the file.  ENJOY!

It's rainy in Ohio, so the lighting is a little lackluster!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Math Work Stations!

I finally sat down & started looking at Debbie Diller's book, but I am only on Chapter 2.  I'm still in the very beginning stages of this new venture, but I'm excited!  I am certain that, even though I teach third grade, I will be able to adapt ideas to fit my students' needs and  will help me tackle a Math Workshop much more successfully once the stations are in place!

I found really cute plastic trays at wonderful Dollar Tree yesterday, and I bought enough for a class set!  I think they'll make really functional math mats.  I thought about placemats, because there were they originally caught my eye {with the same bright polka dot patterns}, but I'm pretty sure that these will outlast any placemat!  I'm in LOVE...and they match my classroom!  :)

As I said, I am just beginning to read the book, so I haven't had the opportunity to really create anything spectacular, but I've made two itty bitty documents that I'd love to share with all of you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Owl Moon Unit!!!

I FINALLY finished my Owl Moon Literacy Bundle after spending two whole days revamping my existing unit!  Yay!   I added a few things, but generally I just made it a whole lot prettier with better clip art.  I have no idea how I ever made it before I was introduced to Scrappin Doodles & Lettering Delights.  :)  Anyway, the unit hits on comprehension skills, fluency, vocabulary, phonics, some writing {since I use this as a mentor text when we're writing personal narratives}, some nonfiction, and I tucked in a little Science nugget too.  You can preview the entire 33 page file HERE, if you're interested.

The Science "nugget" is just a one pager, but it's something you can use if you decide to do an owl pellet dissection.  Yeah, it's kind of gross, because it's basically regurgitated fur and bones, BUT it's such a great lesson!  The kids loved it... aside from the faint smell those little bundles of hair emit.  I've even made peace with the idea, because of the learning value.  Of course, I teach third grade, so my kiddos already understand that some animals eat other animals.  You may want to tread more lightly with younger kids, but I don't know!  There's a great online owl pellet dissection that you can do instead, and you don't even need to spend a dime or search online for bone charts! If you're interested, you can dissect virtually HERE. Last year, I had the opportunity to do the real thing with my kiddos, and they were completely enamored by the experience.  I highly recommend it if you're looking for a way to integrate subjects into your literacy block!  If you can coordinate something with your local wildlife rescue organizations, they may be able to teach your kiddos a thing or two as well!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Will You be my Guinea Pigs?!

I've just finished typing up a really long document for my workshop.  Of course, I'll talking in more detail about Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Teaching Writing and Writer's Workshop in general, but I tried to make a nice resource packet for the participants.  I have been typing for so long that I have to quit for the day, so I thought I'd post the resource for anyone who's interested.  It gives lots of information about my approach to writing which is something I've been asked about quite a bit in emails.  So, hopefully this will give you a better glimpse into my classroom. The last three pages are three documents I created to teach memoirs, because I plan on doing an interactive activity with the teachers at my two sessions.  If you take a look at the document, I would LOVE feedback.  I really want to make sure that I make the writing session worthwhile for everyone in attendance, so I figured that I'd make you my guinea pigs!  If In addition to this resource, I created an anchor chart PowerPoint and have compiled a few sample mini-lessons from the UofS website.  I will have both sets of books, several mentor texts and additional resources that obviously aren't in this post, but I want to primarily see what you all think of the packet.  Please let me know what you think! This is my very first workshop, and I am super nervous.  It's a big one! Thanks in advance! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Classroom Jobs- FREEBIE!

Woo hoo!  I am finally on summer vacation, and I am so excited!  I'm also done with a little local pageant that I helped direct, so I can check that off of my list too!  (My hubby cheerfully helped fluff feathers on little princess crowns to help out.  I'm such a lucky gal!) Anyway, now that my life is slowing down temporarily, I can finally take time to work on a few extra projects for next school year.  A teacher's work is never done.  I also have time to BLOG!  Finally!  I have totally neglected this little slice of cyberspace lately.  At any rate, I wanted to share a little freebie with you all.  It has made my life so much easier!

Once upon a time, I had 5-7 classroom jobs that rotated on a weekly basis.  Then I realized that it was difficult to manage when you’re going to grad school, coaching,  planning a wedding, and living a crazy-hectic-sort-of-existence.  So, last year, I switched over to a bi-weekly rotation, and I totally thought it would work for me since I was married and no longer coaching.  Wrong-OH! I still felt like it wasn’t my cup of tea.  So, sometime in the middle of the 2nd nine-weeks, I decided to make a change.

I decided to create jobs for every kid in my class so that everyone always had a job to do.  I tried to make my life easier by creating jobs that the kids could easily do to free up some of my time for other tasks.  The kids applied for a job, which is a great life-skill, and I tried to place them where I thought they would be happy using their top 2 choices, bottom choice, and their responsibility levels/strengths to “hire” them.  The kids were all happy to have a job to do, and this freed me up to worry about other things for one whole 9-weeks until we applied for jobs again.  This was pure magic, so I HAD to share!
To find out more, you can check out my freebie file!  I hope you can use it... or at least part of it!

Click on the link above the picture to download the file!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Survival Guide Info and a Freebie!

YIKES!  I made a bit of an oops on TpT when I made a small revision to my Survival Guide file, and I uploaded my own personal classroom version with my name plastered all over it.  I swear I'm not an ego-maniac!  If you knew the week I've been having, this slip would not surprise you, but I'm SO immensely sorry for the mix-up.  Does the fact that I had a fever hovering around 102 degrees when I made it make this any more acceptable?!  No, but I can tell you that my brain was complete mush for four days.  (Yesterday, my squashed flat tire was the cherry on top of a pretty miserable week.)  Anyway, the file has been corrected on TpT, so if you bought it, please go back and get your own customizable version by clicking on the blinking link.  Please accept the following resource as my formal apology.  I hope you can add it to your fairy tale files!