Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Punctuations

Well I started the school year with 14 on my class list and by Friday I will be down to 10! I’ve never had such a low number. Another teacher has 11! This means we’ll get all the new kids. So crazy how things change in just under a month of school.

Anyways, today I did a fun lesson with punctuation. I got this off of my latest discovery- It has great lessons for the six traits of writing. I did tweak it so that it's a bit more simple for my friends. First I read the book Punctuation Takes a Vacation. It's a fun book about how some of the basic punctuation marks take off and are missed by the class. The punctuation marks write postcards to the class and they have to figure out which punctuation mark wrote it. 

Punctuation Takes a Vacation

After reading the book I asked the kids if they have ever seen the movie The Incredibles and of course most had. If you haven't seen it, each of them has a super power. My class had to create a family of four (The Punctuations) and each member had to have one of the powers of the following punctuation marks: period, question mark, exclamation point, and comma. The family member had to say something using the power of that punctuation mark. We created one family member together first before I let them do it on their own. They divided a page in their writer's notebook into fourths and each box was for one of the family members. Here's a picture that one of my friends made. It's not the best pic, sorry!

This was a great lesson for conventions but can at the same time be used for ideas. In fact one of my friends asked if he could write a story about it when he was done. Love that! Do you have any fun lessons you teach for conventions?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Subject Labels for Composition Books

It's been a week since I last blogged. I hope that once we get into a routine at school, I will have more time to spend on here. I can't wait for that time either. I just love the days of October when things are running ever so smoothly. 

Today we had a little bit of an issue with kids trying to find which black and white composition book they needed for each subject. Our team decided to use these for all the subjects but never thought about them looking all alike.  So I whipped up some labels that I am going to print on paper and use contact paper over them. They are the size of a half a letter page so I'll print two to a page. The colors go with their folders for each of the subjects. I'm hoping this solves the problem and I no longer hear,  "Is this my math notebook?" I downloaded them for free to my TPT store if you are interested. As always, I would love reviews for anything you download. Thanks!!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Must-Haves Monday!

I’m linking for Teacher Week 2012’s Must-Haves Monday! There a few things that I cannot live without. Here are my must-haves:

Pilot G2 Pens- I love how they write and have them in every color they come in.

Computer- I use my computer for obvious teacher things but I also use it a lot for teaching math since I have an enhanced classroom. I am loving the skins I've been seeing and need to get one too! I heart this one from Amazon!

 Easel- Most of my reading lessons are done at my easel with the kids close by. We make tons of anchor charts throughout the year.

Mine looks a lot like this one.

Containers and Baskets- I’m a neat freak and like a spot for everything so I’ve got them in all shapes and sizes.

These are from the dollar tree site and I have similar ones.

Can’t wait to check out everyone’s must-haves and see if I “need” more things I can’t live without!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School Sale!

I know many of you are going back to school this week and many of you have already started like me. I never got to participate in the Back to School Sale that TPT was having last week so decided to have one this week to commemorate this time of year. Everything in my TPT store is 20% off now through Wednesday! If you’d rather purchase through my blog store, I can arrange for that same discount too. Just shoot me an email. Have a great week everyone!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dismissal....My Least Favorite Part of the Day

So I survived my first week of school. I am starting to love my class but still pine for the days when the kiddos were trained and the day went smoothly. I have to keep reminding myself that this new group will be trained eventually and our days will be less exhausting. I have never really been successful with one part of the day- dismissal. My routine at the beginning of the week was this: bus riders packed up while the rest of the kids remained seated. Then once bus riders were dismissed, my students packed up one table at a time. After packing up, we did magic trash (basically just trash pick up) and then they lined up at the door to wait for the final bell to ring. By the end of the week, I had changed it a bit. Here's what I have right now:

2:25 everyone writes down their homework and takes out supplies needed to do the homework.

2:30 Bus riders dismissed and I do a quick round of magic trash.

2:33ish Everyone sits down and I call one table at a time to pack up. Once a student is packed up, they sit down at their desk.

2:40 I dismiss students one table at time. They stack their chair up before heading out the door. 

I still don't feel that this is the best arrangement. It still feels chaotic and unorganized. I need help! I would love to hear how you all dismiss. What is the routine in your classroom?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Read Aloud Linky Party

Boy am I exhausted! Today was our final teacher work day and kids start tomorrow. I get excited and nervous every year and this year is no exception. I need one more week but really I know there will never be enough time to be completely ready. 

Today I am linking up with Ashley at Teaching Happily Ever After for her read aloud linky party. I love, love, love to read aloud. I've posted about this before but want to add some titles. I can't wait to check out everyone else's list because I am always on the hunt for great new books.

Here are just a few of my students' faves:

What are your favorite read alouds?


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Hodge Podge of Organization

Some of my co-workers think I’m a little nutty when it comes to organization. I can’t help it. I am much happier when everything is in its place and looking pretty. Today I am writing about a hodge-podge of organizational items I have in my classroom. First up is the toolbox. Now before the toolbox ever became the "it" thing to have this summer, I had been using one for years. I don’t use it for teacher supplies though. I have my paper letters organized in them. I use the letters for making words and phonics instruction in small group. So it sits on top of two bins by my small group table.

Now I have to admit, it’s not the prettiest thing. I just wrote the letter that each drawer contains with a sharpie. But it’s so easy to get the letters I need very quickly.

The next thing I like to use to keep me organized is my Desk Apprentice from Staples. It is HUGE but it's usually one of a couple things besides my laptop that are on my desk. I have all my pens, stapler, scissors, and files/papers that I need to use frequently. It's also a great place to put all the post it notes with reminders. I have had it for about 5 years now and don't think I will ever part with it.

 Next up is my obsession with tiny baskets. I have TONS. I keep the cabinet behind my desk organized with them. I had a sub tell me once that she was afraid to touch anything in there and in my desk.  (The inside of my desk is the same way.) Ha!

Hanging on the cabinet door is my lovely door file holder from Mardel’s. It holds the rest of the files that I need to have quick access to. 

And recess materials need to be organized too right? Today I scored a laundry bag at Dollar Tree in my fave color purple. So I'm upgrading from the trash bag we've been using (yes you read that correctly) to this much prettier storage. 

Excuse my dog’s leg in the pic. He just couldn’t resist checking out my new purchase. So there you have a hodge-podge of different things I use to organize. Is there anything you can’t live without that keeps you organized?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Must Haves for Reader and Writer's Workshop

We had meet the teacher night and I am exhausted. I can’t wait to hit the sack! But first I wanted to join Lindsay from My Life as a Third Grade Teacher's linky party. 


I love using the Reader and Writer’s workshop models. Here are my top 3 must haves for Reader’s Workshop:  

 1.    Seat Sacks- My students use these to store their classroom library books and reader’s notebook. I have had these denim ones for 5 years and I think I can still get another 2 out of them! I train my students how to carry them if they use them at a floor spot. I also have them bring them to small groups.
    2.  Library- I love, love, love books and have collected quite a few. I am always adding to my collection and get all giddy when I discover a new read. My students check out books on Friday and they need to have enough material to last them a week.

This is just one section of my library.

    3. Sticky Notes- I heart sticky notes and I have my kids use them for all kinds of tasks during reader’s workshop. They store their completed sticky notes in their Reader’s notebook.
My top 3 must haves for Writer’s Workshop:
1. Stationary- My kids love publishing on different kinds of stationary. I get most of them at the Dollar Tree.

    2. Writer’s Notebook- The notebook is for anything from lists to full on stories. Some pieces in the notebook get published and some don't. They love the freedom of sometimes just writing for fun and not having to worry about making it perfect.    3. Mentor Texts- Kids learn a lot from other authors. I use mentor texts a lot to teach the 6 traits. Sometimes I will read the whole book and sometimes just a section of text is enough. I like to start with the book Arther Writes a Story to kick of Writer's Workshop.

    I have 2 days left before kids come back so I have lots of planning to do now that the fun decorating and organizing is done. But for now it's time to sleep!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reading Binder- Assessments

Having a knee injury has given me lots of time on the computer. Teacher planning officially starts Tuesday and I am not sure if my leg will make it a whole day! I need to strategize so I can sit for most of the day. Thankfully most of the dirty work- you know, moving furniture, cleaning and organizing is mostly done. 

I'm trying to finalize the sections of my Reading Binder so I can have it ready to go for assessing kids. I previously wrote about my first section here and my second section here. The last section of my Reading Binder is Assessments. In this section I have a fluency and running records checklist to keep track of which students I have assessed and when. I use fluency checks that come with our reading series. The running records are from Reading A to Z which my school subscribes to. As the year goes on I add checklists and assessments for main skills tested in 3rd such as main idea and author's purpose. 

I'll be sure post a picture tour of my reading binder when it's all set up this week. If you'd like the checklists I use you can download them from my TPT store for free. Enjoy your Sunday!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Lori for winning my 100 follower giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Daily 5/CAFE/Reading Series

Saw this pic today and remembered how much my mom LOVED the beginning of the school year. I think the feeling she had is mutual amongst most parents!

So two years ago I jumped  onto the Daily 5/CAFE bandwagon and I am so glad I did! I love using the Daily 5 structure for my reading block. CAFE really changed how I structured my small reading groups. This year I want to have a happy medium between CAFE and guided reading. I think my most struggling readers would still benefit from the guided reading structure. I also have a reading series that we are allowed flexibility with. I found a curriculum map that combines CAFE with the Reading series. (We us Treasures so I had to change up the one I found. I am not the original author of it.) I have used it the last 2 years and this year we are being told we don't need to follow the series in order or use it on a weekly basis. So I am rethinking how I am going to teach reading as far as skills such as main idea and cause and effect go. I am thinking of redoing it so the skills are all together and I can teach it in units. I am including a copy of it in google docs and would love suggestions or thoughts. How do you incorporate the reading series in with CAFE?