Sunday, September 11, 2016

Visual Lesson Plans

Plans for Week of Sept. 12th

I love looking at other teachers' lesson plans so I thought I'd share mine for this week. It is a packed week and we have early release Friday so I'll try to fit everything into a four and half day week. 

We have a lot of school requirements which means my writing block is short right now. I'm depending on mentor sentences to help my students become better writers. Once the requirements lessen, I'll be able to have a longer writing block. It is not written in my plans but one thing we do everyday is IDR (Independent Reading). That is a non-negotiable and a very valuable time in my classroom. You'll notice that I include IRA three times a week. This is my interactive read aloud time. I go back and reference these books in upcoming lessons. 

My plans include visual links for easy navigating. I've included links for many of the resources. I hope this is helpful for someone! Just click on the picture to access my plans.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Meet the Teacher 2016

Another "Meet the Teacher" night has come and gone! Leading up to it we only had two contracted days to work in our classrooms and had a county inservice the day of. So of course most of my colleagues including myself worked many hours outside of that to prepare. 

Meet the Teacher Preparations

I start off with pretty bare walls at the beginning of the year. After teaching for so long I've come to learn that it's best for the students to fill our space after they arrive. Plus it saves me a lot of work before school starts! So my bulletin board simply says Coming Soon. Once the students begin working I'll hang up their work. I didn't even put bulletin board paper up this year. I left the natural background and I kind of love it! 

Meet the Teacher

This was the main table for the night. When families arrived, they signed in and then I handed each family a Classroom Creature Chase sheet. They had to go to different stops in the classroom to perform tasks. I learned a lot about the families just from giving them this assignment. I also learned that incoming 3rd graders can't handle six tasks. So next year I'm giving them four and making them simpler to follow. 

One of the tasks the kids had to complete was to get a library book and find a spot they wanted to sit at on the first day. I am trying flexible seating for the first time this year so needed a way for kids to choose a spot. I placed a Welcome flipbook at each available spot along with a sticky note. The kids placed their books at one of those spots, replaced the flipbook with their book and wrote their name on a sticky note. Then they gave their flipbook to their parent to take home.

One of the stops was getting their picture taken in the photo area. I just put up some yellow butcher paper and made a sign for the kids to hold. The credit for the saying goes to Kristen @schoolandthecity on Instagram. I forgot to take a picture of this area but you can see it in the picture above. Here's a close up of the sign:

The last stop was the wishlist cupcake stand. Families had the chance of taking paper cupcakes that had things I would love donated for the classroom. I didn't have a frame to hold up the sign that goes with it so check out this handy idea I came up with at the last minute. I taped a large dice to it and voila!

After checking their Classroom Creature Chase sheet, I gave the 3rd graders a little gift- glow sticks! This idea (and the glow sticks) came from my teammate who found it where else? Pinterest! My teammate got the glow sticks from Amazon but I've seen them at Dollar Tree too.

I've created a version for grades 1st-5th that you can download for free! Just click on the picture below. Well that's a wrap on Meet the Teacher 2016. I hope back to school season is fun and stress free for you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Back to School Class Schedule

It's that time of summer when I canNOT turn my teacher brain off. I go back in a week so I've been working on my class schedule for this year.

I love to see other teachers' schedules for inspiration so I thought I would share my schedule for this year. Of course things might need to be altered if they make changes to my lunch or specials time. But for now, this is what I'll be following.

I will be changing how I do mini-lessons this year and truly keep them MINI. So I will be doing my interactive read alouds right before we go to specials. During IRA I will do think-alouds, and have students turn and talk. I decided to do it this way so it breaks up the amount of time students are sitting on the carpet for instruction. I like to keep them moving as much as possible.

I also have a separate time for Vocabulary because I believe it's important to devote a good chunk of time to it since it is one of the biggest factors in improving reading comprehension. I use Valuable Vocabulary which can be found in my store. 

I have used this for a couple of years now and kids love it and always say they love Vocabulary time. I'm currently working on making all the units teacher friendly. If you are interested in looking at the books I use, you can download the map with clickable links for the whole year here. 

My Writing/Grammar block will be a bit different this year. I really want to teach grammar in a more authentic way so that kids are not only able to identify a part of speech but they are also able to write using them correctly in their own writing. So that block will be a trial and error at the beginning. 

This schedule won't be fully implemented until about the 3rd or even 4th week of school. We practice a lot of routines and procedures in the beginning so our schedule will be off. But it's so worth it in the end because the class runs smoothly and you are able to really dive into instruction.

Teachers go back in a week! When do you get back to reality?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sentence Activity- Sentence RX

Teach Like a Pirate

This summer I read Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess and let me tell you it's amazing! It gave me great ideas that I could use this year in my classroom to make learning exciting and fun. I would love to go to one of his workshops one day because his enthusiasm is contagious! This was an easy read and perfect for summer reading to get you fired up for the new year.

Student Engagement

Sentence RX

This past year I made an effort to create more engaging lessons and Teach Like a Pirate just made me more excited to teach them again and create new ones. One lesson we did this past year was Sentence RX. This lesson was for review and completed after we had done some work with editing sentences. This is a struggle all year for 3rd graders let me tell you! 

Editing Sentences Activity

I had the kids wait outside while I got everything set up. Luckily during this time one of my former students who is now in junior high came for a visit and helped. I bought the gloves and masks on Amazon and it came with so many that I'll have enough for this year too. I got 2 plastic table covers from Dollar Tree and split them in halves and covered the desks. I prepped the tables with everything they would need for the activity: glue sticks, scissors, pencils, gloves, masks, Rx pad, paper bandaids and small buckets to collect scraps. I also put lanyards with their "official" doctor information that they would wear. 

I greeted them at the door with my mask and stethoscope (from the Dollar Tree) and they knew right away they were in for some fun. They began working right away to save their patient: Sentence Sam. Every once in a while I played an ambulance sound that I found on Youtube. During that time they had to stop what they were doing and save another sentence "patient" by correcting the sentence that I was projecting on the screen. They had to rewrite the sentence correctly on a sheet of paper and then return to their main patient. If you'd like the powerpoint slideshow I used just click the picture.

It was fun to watch them because they took it so seriously and wanted to save all the patients. Ha! This was a really great activity and I heard lots of positive feedback from the kids. I did change some things that weren't working so that it will work out better this year. I created a file called Sentence Rx that includes everything we used for this activity. If you'd like to check it out just click on it. Have you read Teach Like a Pirate or tried out any of the actitivies? I'd love to hear about it!

Editing Sentences

Monday, July 18, 2016

Library Book Bin Labels

Do you switch your library book bin labels often? I seem to do that every year because my library changes so often with new books. I found these clear adhesive pockets in the Target dollar spot. 

So of course I needed new labels to fit the pockets. I created these simple labels for all of the series books in my library. I wanted a very neutral color so that it would go with my bright bins which are bright colors. I plan on adding number labels to the bins when the library is all set up so that students can put the books back easily. (The bins in this picture are actually individual student book bins.)

For the rest of the books that aren't in a series, I plan on organizing them like you would find in the bookstore or library. I'm thinking these spine labels by Molly Malloy would be perfect for that!

If you'd like these labels that fit the Target clear pockets, I made them editable to share and you can get them by clicking the picture. The fonts I used are KG Second Chances Solid and KG Alphabet Regurgitation. I'd love to hear how you set up your library. I'm always looking for new ideas.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Flexible Seating- Brainstorming

Now that the 4th of July is over, it's getting a little closer to back to school for me. At the end of the year we have to put all of our movable furniture in the middle of the room. So I went in today to start the process of making my room flexible seating friendly.

This is the first year I will be doing flexible seating and am ready for the challenge. Thankfully I have a couple of people at my school that are also trying it out so we'll learn together! 

My goal today was to move furniture. First I set up my small group table with these stools from 5 Below. They seem sturdy but I will be enforcing strict rules on how to use them. This table will also be an option for students to work at throughout the day. (I just need to figure out an easy way of taking off those darn stickers on the top of the stools.)

Then I set up this round table that the custodian so nicely put in my room after I inquired about it. I also got the canvas chairs from 5 Below. 

I had my computers on top of a big rectangular table so I moved the computers onto student desks. The table is quite large but for now will be my floor table after I remove the legs. I set up 3 desks to create a space for kids that just want a regular student desk and chair. I'm thinking of making it a group of 4 but that will take up more space. I am planning on raising the desks in the front of the this picture to create a standing table. However I'm hoping to find another smaller rectangular table. 

So that's where I'm at in my flexible seating brainstorming. I am also planning on having kids choose to work on the floor and all that is needed is a clipboard or some type of lap desk. I hope I gave you some ideas for your classroom! I'd love to hear what you're doing if you're doing flexible seating.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


I wanted to stop by and talk about some things we did this week in 3rd grade to learn about fractions. Now this is the first year that I've had quite the struggle teaching this topic because they no longer teach fractions in 2nd grade. So they come with very little knowledge about what a fraction even is.  I used ALOT of manipulatives: fraction circles, counters, and bars just to name a few.

Fractions on a Number Line

One area the kids struggled with was fractions on a number line. We used fraction bars and sentence strips to practice creating a number line and identifying missing fractions on a number line. I modeled how to create a number line on the sentence strip using the whole fraction bar. Then we used the fraction pieces to divide each number line. Here are a couple of my kiddos in action:

Number Line- Fractions


Fractions Using a Number Line

After they had gotten some practice with that, I created a number line on my sentence strip and they had to copy it and identify where a given fraction was located. Three whole number lines fit on each side of the sentence strip. The kids loved this so much that they wanted to wear their sentence strips as hats. Ha!

To do a final review of number lines, I took string and hung a 0 and 1 index card on each side. Then I had kids come up to the string and place their fraction where they thought it belonged. This led to some great discussions about placement and equal parts.

Fractions Number Line Activity

Fractions Review

To review all the main fraction concepts they rotated through different fraction games. Most of them were from Lakeshore but I added my own game too. It's called Fraction Fortune. When I was explaining the directions and telling them that each team needed a banker, they were hooked. I had to settle them down to finish explaining the games because they were busy trying to figure out who the banker would be. They had a blast playing. 

Fraction Game for Review

We ended our fractions unit on Valentine's Day Eve and I found the perfect activity! Nicole from All Things Apple in 2nd has a great fraction activity where the kids figure out fractions of a group using Hershey kisses and it's a freebie in her store! I placed a group of kisses in the bags and taped Nicole's labels inside. They had to turn over the bags and figure out the fraction of red, pink, and silver kisses. They recorded them on the sheet that comes with the activity which I printed on pink paper since it IS Valentine's and all. They were completely engaged and I gave them kisses to eat later because what fun would it be to work with chocolate and not eat it?!

Valentines Fractions Activity

This won't be the end of learning about fractions. We didn't spend as long as we should have on it. Our state test is only 17% fractions so my team decided to cover it but then return to it later in the year. We can go more in depth later on and not have the pressure of the test. 

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in Fraction Fortune, just click on the picture below. Happy 3 Day Weekend!

Review Game for Fractions