Sunday, July 31, 2011

Matt Damon Rocks!

A friend of mine said she spotted Matt Damon yesterday and gave no details. I think this type of information deserves details!! Anyways while I was waiting for a reply, another friend posted this on facebook and I just had to share it. It is an awesome speech that Matt Damon made in Washington, DC directed at teachers. I kinda got a little emotional reading it. It feels good to know there are people out there, other than those in education, that appreciate what we do. The fact that he took time out of his day to do this really shows what great character he has. Please let me know what you think!

Matt Damon's Speech To Teachers

Monday, July 25, 2011

My New Year's Resolution

Clutter- Free Classroom is having a new school year resolution linky party and I definitely have a couple of resolutions. My first resolution is to use the Desk Apprentice in a more productive way. Do you know what a Desk Apprentice is? Its this lovely contraption from Staples:

Staples The Desk Apprentice Rotating Desk Organizer

I really love mine but have not used it in a way that makes it beneficial to have the huge thing on my desk. The Apprentice holds things like my lesson plan binder, student records, notepads, pens, and stapler. Anything I need to have at my finger tips. Alot of teachers have come in my room and were amazed how clean my desk was. If they only knew.... because sometimes the organizer can be a dumping ground for any paper that may land on my desk which defeats its purpose.

 My other resolution is to organize my math games by the 3 big ideas and supporting ideas that our math curriculum is organized by. I am also going to try and adapt Debbie Diller's Math Stations to third grade. I'll have to look back on this post next year and see if I followed through with my resolutions!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Morning Meeting

I have been away on a short trip to visit family. I like going away on trips but boy do I love to come home. Anyways, lets talk about morning meetings. I tried the Responsive Classroom approach last year for the first time and LOVED it. It was the best year I have had in my 8 year career. I was genuinely sad to see them leave and that has never happened. I'm usually so ready to say goodbye to them. A big component of the responsive approach that made a world of difference in my classroom environment, was holding morning meetings. Prior to last year, I thought that holding the meetings was not the best use of our time. But carving out that 10 or 15 minutes everyday in the morning set up our class to have a more productive learning environment so it was so worth it. Here's a rundown of what our meetings look like:

1 or 2  minutes- Greeting ( We got alot of our ideas for greetings from the awesome Christina Bainbridge. Here's a link to her website: Welcome to Mrs. Bainbridge's Class and her blog: Mrs. Bainbridge's Class.

2 minutes- Review of Morning Work

5-8 minutes- Share Time: My students are assigned numbers for the year and so I would write 2 numbers everyday on the board under the heading Share. Those students knew it was their day to share if they liked or they could just say pass. Students did well with knowing when their day was coming because I wrote the numbers in order so they would be prepared if they wanted to share an object from home. Sometimes they just wanted to share a story. After each child shares they call on 2 students to ask a question or comment.

Morning meetings really set the tone for the rest of the day. Students loved being able to share parts of their lives which enhanced the community feeling in the room. If there was an overall class issue, we'd use morning meetings to discuss it and problem solve. I will definitely be doing it again this year!

I used The Morning Meeting book to help me launch it last year. It has more components like morning messages, news and announcements but I decided to shorten it to better fit our schedule.

cover of The Morning Meeting Book

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Favorite Children's Author

Today is day 3 of Clutter-Free Classroom's week long linky party. Today's topic is not easy. Choosing a favorite children's author is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. Okay, maybe not, but it is still difficult. I LOVE children's books and have tons in my classroom. One of my favorite children's authors is Judy Blume. I loved reading her books as a kid and now read them to my students. Every year we read the Fudge series. Like a lot of Judy's books, they are hilarious and the kids can really relate to the characters in the books. Who hasn't been frustrated with a younger sibling or had to deal with an annoying neighbor? Every time I read a Judy Blume book, the kids are begging to borrow it after I am done reading it to them.

Here are some of my favorites:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Red Book

Today is day 2 of the linky party Clutter-Free Classroom is hosting! Today's linky is for our fave picture books based on illustrations. One of my favorite books is the The Red Book by Barbara Lehman. I was ecstatic when we recieved it this past year as book of the month so I could have my own copy.

It has no words and the whole story is told in illustrations. I like to use this book when I am introducing inferring. As we go through the book I stop at certain points and have the students discuss what they think is happening in the story. The kids really enjoy it and love to discuss their differences in opinions on what the plot is.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

Clutter-free Classroom is having a week long linky party! Today's party is for sharing what we are all doing on our summer vacations.

I really love being on summer vacation. Sleeping in until whatever time I please (even if it is just to move from the bed to the sofa), drinking coffee slowly while enjoying a morning show, taking long walks with my dog, and going to lunch with friends.  This summer I have done all that and more. I live in Florida and recently got to experience the last NASA shuttle launch. Being a Florida native, I can't believe I hadn't been to any other launch. We had to leave for our two hour trek down to Kennedy Space Center at 4am.  We took our camping chairs and parked ourselves on top of a bridge with the other million people that seemed to be there. We waited about 5 hours for a 30 second launch but it was so worth it. I wish I had video from our trip but it's on my friend's camera. Here are a couple of pics from the trip:

This was the view from the bridge. It was a cloudy day
but that is Kennedy Space Center way off in the distance.

This was an airboat we saw that was shaped like a shuttle.
Pretty cool!

Something else I like about summer vaca is having time to do all the errands and doctor's appointments I don't have time for or I'm tired to do during the year. One of those appointments is my dog's yearly visit to the vet for vaccines. He was definitely not happy with the bandage they put on him. Here's a pic of him trying to chew it off:

Only 3 weeks left of summer. Yikes!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

100th Day of School Activity

 Teaching Blog Addict  is having a linky party for 100th day of school activities!

On the 100th day I read the book The Night Before The Hundredth Day of School. It's really cute and my third graders love it. Then I do some type of activity. Here is one activity sheet I have for the 100th day. Enjoy!

100th Day Activity Sheet

Wow, 1,000!!!

Ladybug Teacher Files has reached 1,000 followers! That is amazing! To celebrate she is having a giveaway for some of the cutest templates from Ladybug Teaching Resources! Definitely go check both her sites out. She has some great ideas and resources!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Heart Zazzle!

Have you heard of Zazzle? I found out about it last year when I started using CAFE in my classroom. They had a great promo with the Daily 5/Cafe authors so I couldn't resist. It was my back to school present to myself and I love it! I use it for all my conference and small group notes in reading. Here's a pic:

The fun part is that you can personalize it any way you want. I changed the spine to dark purple and had my favorite quote written on it. On the front I had my name written along with the purpose for the binder. I think I might make one to use as my planner this year. The last cheapo one I got didn't last till the end of the year.  That's a good excuse to spend money right?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog Mixer Linky Party!

Yearn to Learn is having a Blog Mixer Linky Party! What a great idea to get introduced to new blogs.

Here's what you look for:

1. A blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog"

(Let's say someone who has blogged 2 months or less and has less than 200 followers)

2. Post a blogger in your same grade level.

3. Post a blogger in a different grade level.

4. It's all about the button. Find a cute blog button.

1. Learn with Me in Grade Three is a newbie like me!

2. Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher teaches in the same grade as me. She has a great sqworl layout on her site where can discover alot of great blogs too!

3. Ladybug Teacher Files has a ton of great resources. She teaches a 4th/5th combo. She has a ton of amazing resources and her blog tutorials have helped me out!

4. Third Grade's A Hoot has a really cute button! (I'm still learning how to add those within posts so please forgive me. Click on her link to check it out!)

Child Info and Call Log

I can't believe summer is more than half over for me! I go back to school in about 3 weeks. I am slowly starting to think about all those back to school documents I need. Something I did last year which I will do again is use this sheet for student info. Once the parents have filled out the top, I put them in a 3 ring binder and use the bottom and back log to document my phone calls. I keep it in the top drawer that my phone sits on so I have all the info I need at my finger tips. If I missed an important piece of info on here let me know and I will gladly add it.

Child Info and Call Log

My school doesn't allow email as a form of communication between parents and teachers so I don't have that on my original Info Log. Here's one with space for that info:


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Classroom Library

I just discovered The Sweet Life of Third Grade (I love discovering new blogs and have become somewhat of a blog addict!). Mrs. E is having a linky party for classroom library pics. I have a portable so I don't have alot of room for bookcases. However, after reading Debbie Miller's book Reading With Meaning I learned that you should have books everywhere. There doesn't need to be just one spot designated to books. So I have 2 main bookcases in a corner of my room. And then I have a short book display rack in front of my desk and crates with baskets of books under my dry erase board. I have so many books that I have to switch some of them out half way through the year. I have my books organized by genre and favorite authors so that my kids don't get too caught up in trying to pick books from "their" level bin only. Here are my bookcases. I don't have pictures of the rest of my library right now. But I will upload them when I do. Notice the camping chairs. My kids love them! I write down 2 numbers each day and the kids who have that designated number get to sit in the chairs for the day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daily Schedule

Simply 2nd Resources is having a linky party for daily schedules. Here's mine!

Daily Schedule
8:20- Students enter
8:20-8:35 Students do a morning assignment or read
(I check planners, homework and take attendance during this time.)
8:35-8:45 Morning Meeting
8:45-9 Reading Mini Lesson#1
9-9:20 Independent Reading/Individual Conferences/Assistant works with small group
9:20-9:40 Reading Mini Lesson #2
9:40-10:00 Guided Reading/Strategy Groups
10:00-10:05 Share
10:10-10:40 Specials
10:45-11:35 Mondays: Word Study Groups and Indpendent Practice
Tuesdays-Fridays: Writer’s Workshop
11:35-11:50 Recess
11:54-12:19 Lunch
12:19- 12: 25 Bathrooms and Drinks
12:25-12:45 Read Aloud
12:45-1:55 Math- Whole Group/Small Group/Games
1:55-2:25 Social Studies or Science
2:30- Buses Dismiss
2:40 Everyone Dismisses


I recently discovered lapbooks and love them! I decided to have my students create one for summer school. It was the perfect project for the 7 half days I taught. (I know what you're thinking- Why did I even bother teaching for that short amount of time? Trust me the paycheck was worth it!) Anyways, a lapbook is just a folder that holds activities for any theme or lesson you like. I used the book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (I heart Judy Blume!). I read aloud 1 or 2 chapters a day and then we did a section of the lapbook afterwards. For example, on day 1 after reading the chapters, we discussed visualizing while reading and then the kids drew a picture of the most vivid mental picture they had while I had read. After they were completed, we glued it to the bottom portion of the lapbook. Another day we discussed character traits and did a character wheel. Now they have a nice collection of activities that they can bring home. I plan to use these for Social Studies and Science next year. I included the link to the great website I use to get some of the templates for the activities at the end of this post. Here is a picture of the cover and the inside of the lapbooks. (Sorry, I know it's kind of hard to see.) Has anyone else tried lapbooks?

Lapbooks Activity Templates

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My First Post!

I decided to finally dive into the world of blogging. I love being able to share ideas with other educators as well as learn what others are doing in their classrooms. I follow so many great blogs and have learned so much from them. I hope you are able to get some useful tips, ideas and resources from here as well. Thanks for reading!