Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Assess Me! Week One

I was catching up on my Bloglovin' blog reading just now and came across this fun linky. This is from The Tattooed Teacher. It is the Assess Me! link up party - a fun little get to know you activity. So here goes...

1. I don't talk to myself, but I do talk to my pug, Wiggles, and my cat, Boots, ALL the time. I don't think that's the same as talking to it?

2. I am not superstitious at all, but my children are. They both say we have a ghost in our house:)
3. I do not crack my knuckles - and I hate it!! One of my friends cracks her knuckles, her back, her neck - you name it! I beg her to stop...
4. Am I hungry? When am I not hungry, that's the real question.
5. Yes, my television is on and it's on way too much, but most of the time it's background noise while I do work for school or posts like this:)
6. I got all four wisdom teeth pulled and it was terrible. 
7. I have not showered today. I showered last night and then drove for 12 hours. I'm about to shower, as soon as I'm done with this fun assessment.
8. I went to Disney World when I was 5 with my family. My favorite thing to do was It's a Small World ride.
9. Unfortunately, I've reached the age where I need reading glasses. 
10. After living across the continent in Oregon for 20 years, I moved back to my home state of Alabama in 2006. I not only live in my home state, but my hometown of Birmingham, and five minutes from my mom and dad, who still live in the house where I grew up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley Book Trailer

I have fallen behind in my book trailer creations, so I got back to it this morning.

During the later part of the school year, I read all kinds of book buzz about Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. I ordered my copy from Amazon and read it in June. It was wonderful! It was one of those books I just couldn't put down and finished in two days. I think this will be added to my read alouds for the year!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Made It! - July 27th

I'm joining Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It again this week. I've been on vacation this last week, so my creations are computer generated.

My first Monday Made It! is a morning check-in for my kiddos for their reading. I used to have a calendar for each student, and in the morning, I would call out each child's name and they would tell me the title of the book they were reading and what page they were on. I like checking in with everyone, but honestly, it takes some time.  This year, I'm changing it up just a little bit. I created this form that I will post on the whiteboard, located next to the attendance board. When students move their number for attendance each day, they will write their name, title of the book and page number. I'll keep these in my notebook, so I'll be able to do a quick check from day to day and keep an eye on their reading life to use in individual conferences. This will leave time in our first period for our read aloud and a mini lesson.

My second Monday Made It! is a handout for my kiddos to keep for the year and refer to regularly. I have a large one printed and posted on my classroom wall, too. I try very hard to teach my students about a Growth Mindset. I think it's really important for them to know that I want them to take risks in their learning. Yes, they may fall/fail, but it this is an important part of learning! I will be there to help them and move from "I can't do it" to "I can't do it, YET".

My third Monday Made It! are my team's welcome letters for our fourth and fifth graders. We're departmentalized beginning in fourth grade, and our team teaches both fourth and fifth grade. Our welcome letter for our fourth graders is a way to hopefully reduce their anxiety about moving up to fourth grade and having four different teachers for their core classes. For our fifth graders, our welcome letter is really a welcome back and we're excited to teach you again this year. We'll send these out the week before school starts.

My fourth Monday Made It! is something for the first week of school. Our first full day of school this year is on a Tuesday. Our parents' night is Thursday of that same week. I like to have some type of writing up for the parents to see. In order to do this in two days, it has to be a pretty quick activity, so I created a newsletter for the kids to write articles about themselves.

My fifth and final Monday Made It! for the week is cards that will have my students' log in information for different websites such as Google Drive, our school website, Typing Pal, etc. I'm just waiting on their log in info from our IT guy and then I'll finish them up and laminate them. I'll attach these to the first page in their agendas because they take their agendas to every class and home every night. I'm hoping this will alleviate the nightly emails of "Johnny can't log in to Google Drive for his homework".

That's all for this week! What did you make this week?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Global Read Aloud 2015

This year's Global Read Aloud promises to be another great experience! Pernille Ripp is the fabulous creator of this experience. If you want to connect with classrooms around the world, go here to sign up.

We're going to read Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt. Here is a trailer for the book:

The schedule for the read aloud is:

Week 1:  Chapter 1 – 8
Week 2: Chapter 9 – 17
Week 3: Chapter 18 – 24
Week 4: Chapter 25 – 33
Week 5: Chapter 34 – 42
Week 6: Chapter 43 – end
During the month of October, you can connect with other classrooms reading the same book as you through Twitter, Skype, Kidblog, Edmodo and more. The Twitter group for this book is #GRAFIAT.

Join us, won't you? You won't regret it!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Writing About Reading - Round 2

A couple of weeks ago I participated in an online book group that read Cynthia Lord's A Handful of Stars. (If you haven't read it yet, pick it up immediately! It is an awesome book.) We were interested in our writing about our reading. We all have our students write about their reading, so we thought we'd practice what we have them do. It's not an easy task!

During the first book club, we all put our notes in a shared Google Doc. It was great being able to read everyone's thoughts. Many people took pictures of their notebooks and uploaded them into the document. It was great to see how differently everyone jots while reading. The other thing that I really enjoyed was reading everyone's notes and comments and being able to reply to other's comments. I found my thinking became much deeper and taken in new directions after reading the thoughts of others.

For the second round of book club, we broke up into groups of 3 to 4 and chose different books. My groups is reading Gordon Korman's Masterminds. Although we're only on chapter 10, this book is excellent! It really grabs you from the very beginning. We started with a shared Google Doc but someone from our last group introduced Padlet to us. If you have used it before, it's super easy to use and would be great for all kinds of things students can do in the classroom. So, most of us decided to try Padlet for taking notes this time. What I found so far is that by each of creating our own Padlet, we've lost the conversation feeling we had in the first book club. We're posting in our own Padlet page and then putting a link in the Google Doc. There is an option to share a Padlet page with others, so I'm hoping my group with either be willing to post together on one Padlet page or go back to the Google Doc. We'll see. I'm definitely still enjoying it, but I can tell my thinking isn't moving as much as it did the first time.

If you haven't tried Padlet, I would highly recommend it. It's super easy to use and would be very easy for the kids to pick up on and use.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It! - July 20th

I'm joining up with 4th Grade Frolics again for Monday Made It! I don't have quite as many things completed as I had hoped to, but here they are: (sorry for the terrible picture quality!)

My first Monday Made It! is name tags I printed, laminated and cut out. Then I added them to 3M clips. I attach these to the wall outside my classroom, where I display some of my students' writing throughout the year.

My second Monday Made It! is numbers for my cubbies. The students from the other fourth grade homeroom use these to keep their LA things in. This helps stop the "I forgot that" or "I left that in my desk" situation.

I don't remake these every year - just when I am ready for a new color scheme:)

My third Monday Made It! is the display for my kiddos' birthdays. I printed, laminated and cut these out. Once I get my class list, I'll add the student names and birthdays, then post in my classroom on my birthday wall. These are for sale in my TpT store if you're interested. It also has birthday toppers for pencils, crazy straws or whatever (which I posted in a previous post you can find here: Monday Made It! July 6th edition).

My fourth Monday Made It! is for my classroom door. I'm going to have a bee theme, so I got my bees printed, laminated and cut. Like the birthdays, I'll add the names to the bees once I get my class list. I also made the letters for the saying on the door.

And finally, my fifth Monday Made It! is new library labels. I needed to replace book baskets because many of mine are broken. I found these plastic bins at the Dollar Store, so I bought 25 new bins and created labels. The picture is terrible - sorry, but they're made with a chalkboard background and different colored lettering. I love how they turned out!

That's it for this week. What did you make?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Made It! - July 13th

Yay! It's Monday again and time for Fourth Grade Frolic's Monday Made It!

For my first Monday Made It, I printed and laminated Catherine's, from The Brown Bag, Subway Synonym Art to hang in my classroom. We're always working on word choice in our writing, so these are awesome.

My second Monday Made It! is also for display in my classroom. I'm going to teach my kids root words, prefixes and suffixes, and this resource is awesome, too! This is from Teaching to Engage, her Super Roots. 

My third Monday Made It! is actually something I saw from another teacher on Monday Made It and thought it would be the perfect to add to my classroom. We already do booktalks to share our love of books and recommendations, so I thought this would be a great way for my kiddos to get help finding a new book to read (from my 1000 book classroom library) when browsing the library. This is Book Buzz from Tales of a Tenacious Teacher.

My fourth Monday Made It! is some letters for my library area. I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

My fifth and last Monday Made It! is for my house. I desperately needed some new curtains. These were from Pottery Barn and have just been looking old and faded.

So these are the new ones - I love the way they turned out.

What did you make this week?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Writng about Reading - A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

A huge thank you goes to Julieanne Harmatz! She organized an online book club for teachers to practice what we want our students to do - write about reading. We used Cynthia Lord's new book, A Handful of Stars. Julieanne set up a Google Doc for each set of chapters we read and shared it with us so we were able to comment. It was like having a great conversation with friends!

First, let me just say this book is awesome. Second, sharing with this group of teachers was invaluable! It definitely reminded me how much better a book is when we get to share our thinking with others. By reading the thoughts of these smart women, it opened my mind and broadened my thinking into areas I didn't go on my own. It also made me think deeper when someone thought along the same lines about something that I did.

Julieanne asked us to choose one thing that really stuck with us through the book and to write about it, as this might be something we have our students do.

I'm including the picture of the front cover because my image of choice is Lucky. I think Lucky represents so much in this book. I'd like to focus on the theme of invisible vs seen/seeing. Lucky is going blind, and yet he sees clearly and opens the eyes of those around him, especially Lily. Lily says everyone knows the migrant workers are there, yet they're invisible to the townspeople, until Lucky goes charging off and Salma saves the day by enticing him with her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Lucky opens the door for friendship between Lily and Salma and Lily truly sees Salma, her family, and the workers. There is a conflict that continues throughout the story and resolved at the end having to do with friendship. Lily says at one point when she's with both Hannah and Salma, "I didn't know exactly who to be - the person I was with Salma or the one I was with Hannah." (78) Lucky just knows who is truly there. We see this again and again when he responds to someone entering the store or when Lily takes him somewhere. Lucky removes this cloak of invisibility of the character so the reader then gets to truly "see" the character. This theme is developed further when Salma enters the Downeast Blueberry Pageant, and the whole town "sees" Salma when she responds to the questions.

There is so much in this book. This is just a small snippet of the thoughts I had while reading. I found it valuable to figure out how I like to jot ideas/notes while reading, as well as see what worked for others. This, like so many other things we do, reminds me to give my students choice. What works best for them? I need to model different ways of jotting my thinking while reading, let them practice, and then let them choose what works best for them - and perhaps that might change, which is okay, too. I also realized that as much as I really enjoy writing about my reading, I really enjoy talking about it more. It takes a lot of effort to put my thoughts and ideas into writing, and honestly, sometimes I want to stop before I'm finished with my thinking. I need to remind myself of this, too, when I'm having my students write. I think I see this often when I know I can have a great discussion with my kids about our reading, but then when I read their writing, it's surface level. I am thinking about how to focus their writing which might make it more manageable for them and not overwhelming.

This has been a great experience. I have really loved the sharing of ideas and collaboration. We're continuing with a final Twitter chat to discuss this idea of writing about reading on Tuesday night at 7:30 EST #WabtR. Join us!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Teachers Write! July 10 - Voice

Today is Friday Feedback for Teachers Write! with Gae Polisner but I thought I'd post here, too. We also had a lesson on trying to work voice into our writing. The author was encouraging us to add humor to our writing by using similes and metaphors or something unexpected. I think I'm going to have to continue to work on that because I sat kind of stumped. I will keep this lesson in mind as I continue to write, so what I did do was try to add some similes  and strong verbs (I call the vivid verbs with my kiddos) into my writing because that's something I ask my students to do. I figured that if I ask them to do it, I'd better put myself in their shoes and see if I could do it. It's tough, this writing thing!

Here goes...

This is my character description from yesterday. We were asked to write about what our character loves.

Molly loves to swim the most. She is like a fish - that's what her mom says. If there's water, she's in it. She will swim all day if she gets the chance. Sometimes it's hard though because none of her friends like it as much as she does, so she runs out of swimming buddies. It's a good thing her mom and Granny love to swim. They'll always swim with her.

Revised description:

Molly took to the water like a fish to swimming. She had a powerful affinity to the water, wanting to swim all day. Sometimes her friends would want to play on the beach in the sand, building castles and animal statues. That was okay with Molly to do for a bit, but the water called to her like sirens of the sea. She couldn't stay out for long resist the temptation. She would charge back into the clear lake like a tank in battle and belly flop causing a tsunami of tides. She gazed across the lake, the water glistening like a mirror, and charged into the water like a tank in battle, belly-flopping, causing a tsunami in her wake.

We'll see what tomorrow's writing brings:)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Wish I Was in Vegas but...

I'm joining School and the City's link up... I wish I was in Vegas but...

I would love, love, love to go to TpT conference in Vegas. It would definitely put me out of my comfort zone, going to a huge conference all by myself, but I think it would end up being fun meeting all these great bloggers and sellers and I'm blog stalking all the time:)

What are you doing instead of Vegas?

Teachers Write! July 9

For our writing lesson today, we were to take one of our characters and work on voice. In order to do that, our guest mentor asked us to think about some questions related to the character and write answering these questions for a certain time period - like 2 minutes or 4 minutes, etc. What I'm posting here is about another character that enter the room where the main character, Molly, is currently.

Excerpt from today:

Molly's grandmother came into the room to see if everyone was ready for lunch. She loves to feed people; this is her way of taking of those she cares about and nurturing them. Granny is smart and so kind. She's Molly's favorite. Molly looks similar to Granny. Molly has always thought Granny was beautiful. She has brown hair, but when you look closely at it, which Molly does often because she loves "doing" Granny's hair, it is actually made up of all different colors. She has red, brown, black, blonde and some gray, though Molly doesn't think Granny will ever go completely gray - she has WAY too much hair. Even though Granny is only five years younger than Grandaddy, she looks twenty years younger. She has beautiful, wrinkle-free skin. Her eyes are funny. Sometimes they are blue. Sometimes they are green. Sometimes they are gray. It is dependent on her mood.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Monday Made It - July 6

I'm excited to participate in 4th Grade Frolics' Monday Made It for the second week in a row. Yay!

I'm posting my Monday Made It just a little bit late:) I made a few items for school this week. (They're terrible quality pictures - sorry!)

Made It! #1- I made was a bookmark to give all my kiddos on the first day of school. It is just the beginning of letting them know how much I value reading and that our classroom is full of readers.

Made It! #2 - a set of birthday toppers. I printed and laminated these and will attach them to some crazy straws I got at Michael's. The kids love these. The Birthday Toppers and Cupcakes are in a set I have for sale on Tpt (just click the link if you're interested). It includes 12 different colored Happy Birthday circles and 12 different colored cupcakes. I print and laminate the cupcakes, then write each student's name and birthday one and post on one of my cabinet doors.

Made It! #3 - the boy's and girl's bathroom pass. I will attach these to the hand sanitizer. This works great because instead of interrupting something going on in the classroom to ask to go to the bathroom, the student will just put the hand sanitizer on their desk. It's a visual for me to help remind me who is out of the room (only 1 girl and 1 boy at a time) and they get the reminder to actually USE the hand sanitizer when they return. Win, win.

Hopefully I'll be able to keep checking things off my list. Monday Made It! is a great motivator! What did you make?