Saturday, June 30, 2012

50 Followers Giveaway!

Ahhhh I have 50 followers!!!!  This is crazy!  I know some people have thousands and maybe one day I will but for now 50 is a big accomplishment for me.  I want to thank everyone for sticking with me through all my ramblings up to this point and hope you still stick with me through many more.  I have had so much fun creating this blog and meeting a bunch of wonderful new people and want to thank everyone for making this journey so wonderful.  To celebrate I want to give away my Fraction War Math Center. 

Click on the picture above and it will take you to my Teachers Pay Teachers store where you can download it for free until Monday.  All I ask is that you are a follower and leave a comment or review about the center (either on here or on TPT).  Again, thank you so much for your support!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Fun with Fractions

As most of you know I teach Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies but I really do love Math and continue to go to different workshops so I can keep up my skills. This past week I went to a two-day workshop called Fun with Fractions.  Now, one of my most non-teacher qualities is that I really DO NOT like time wasting activities at workshops.  Like the ice breakers that take 20 minutes or an activity that you really only need to spend 10 minutes on but you spend 30.  I know you want to show me how the students feel but I would really like to learn more to take back to the classroom.  (Alright, enough Negative Nancy - sorry!)  All that being said, this workshop was amazing!  No icebreaker (because we all introduced ourselves to the people at our table who we'd be working with) and all the activities we worked on were a lot of fun and we spent just enough time to keep me excited and still be able to fit in more!   They also taught me a lot and boosted my "fraction confidence."  Did I mention all the wonderful freebies we got and I WON SOMETHING!  That never happens, so that made this workshop doubley wonderful. :o)
The workshop focused on Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics Grades 3-5 by John A. Van de Walle and LouAnn H. Lovin.  It was very helpful, especially with student's misconceptions and how to teach the major areas in math in multiple ways.  The book also contains different activities for certain topics.  I'm really excited to delve more into it!  Another plus to the book is that you can get all the blackline master copies on their website.

One of the things I liked best about this workshop was that they showed us some great activities to do with the kids from beginning fractions all the way to enrichment.  They also had different ideas for different learners.  Here are some of the creative things that we worked on.  They are more geared towards third and fourth grade, though you could tweak them for fifth.

Share the Brownie - place brown squares and four story problems in a ziplock bag.  Each story problem causes the students to divide the brownies equally amongst the people in their group but also requires them to cut some of those squares and create new fractions.  I really enjoyed this one!
Sandwich Bag Decimal Chart - How stinking cute is this?!  It is a Bag Lady creation and all you have to do is open up a brown paper lunch bag and cut down one side and cut the bottom off.  Lay it out flat and fold the bottom up to make the pocket (you can glue down if you need to.)  Fold the bag into how many sections you need, use a marker to line them off and label, and finally glue down Decimal Dan! (Hint = he is always looking up to the whole numbers)  Now every student has their own decimal chart to help them whenever needed.  You could also have them write down numbers on notecards and keep them in a bag at their desk with Decimal Dan to do quick warm ups.

Hundreths Circles - Print out two of these circles on different colored paper and laminate. Cut along the dotted line directly to the center. Once both are cut, connect the two circles at the line you cut and tada! You are now ready to teach decimals to their equivalent fraction. Click here for a teacher template. I am going to scale them down for the students.
Human Number Line - It's just what it sounds like!  Give each student a notecard with a fraction on it and have them go up to the front and put themselves in order of least to greatest.  Let the other students check them for accuracy.  To really throw the kids, have certain students swap places and see if anyone notices.  You can also do fractions and decimals together!

Fraction War - Just like the game we played as kids but with fractions!  If you visit my TPT store, I have different versions of this game.

Round Robin with Multiples - Have students keep going around at their table and listing the first 10 multiples of any number.  Great warm up and review!
Four Corners - Have basic or benchmark fractions in the four corners (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 - or whatever you want).  The students all scatter to the corners and the caller is in the middle (will probably have to be you until they become more familiar with fractions).  The caller will call out some fraction that can be simplified to one of the four corners.  Example "8/16!"  Everyone in the 1/2 corner will be out.  Continue until only player remains - they are the new caller.  This makes the students playing the game have to reduce fractions to figure out if they are in or not and the caller has to think of fractions that can be reduced correctly.  Really liked this one too!

I really enjoyed this and can't wait to make some of these things for my math centers that I am creating for my early finishers.  Now, I know you kept reading this long post just to see what I won ;o), so here it is:  Fraction Cubes!!!  Have I also mentioned that I love workshops where they give you free stuff?  Really, who doesn't?  They also gave us three sets of Decimal Equivalency Discs.  You place fraction circles in the middle and it tells you the equivalent fraction!

I hope you can use some of these ideas in your math class.  If you have any other ideas for fractions or decimals, leave your idea or link in the comment section!


Guiding Readers Ch. 3 - Guiding Emergent Readers

Ch. 3 in our Guiding Readers Book Study is all about the emergent reader.  To be truthfully honest, in fifth grade, we do not get a lot of emergent readers.  And by not a lot I mean none.  Now others might, but I have yet to receive one (which means all the wonderful teachers before me are doing an amazing job and I thank you for it).  I read the first page, which is three paragraphs and some bullets, and instantly thought, "WOW!  Look how far they have come by the time they get to me!"  In my mind I've always known where they start as readers, but seeing it all laid out like that and the activities really drove it home. 

I think one of my favorite parts of this chapter (and hopefully every other chapter) is that Lori Rog gives you Lesson Routines with different ideas of how to implement strategies and skills and Must-do activities for most of them also.  You have to look at all the Lesson Routines for emergent readers (* means that they have a must-do activity that accompanies it):

Working with Sounds
  1. Picture Sorts*
  2. Syllable Segmenting* 
  3. Train Sounds*
  4. The Sound Bus* (my favorite!)
  5. More games for playing with sounds (4 total)
Working with Letters and Words
  1. Alphabet Mats*
  2. Letter Bags*
  3. Name Games*
  4. Letter-Sound Games
Working with Books
  1. Show What You Know*
  2. Parts of a Book*
  3. Spaces around Words*
  4. Print Matching*
  5. Make Your Own Book*
Reading-Writing Connection
  1. Shared Writing
  2. Cut-Up Sentences
  3. Writing with Pictures
LOOK AT HOW MANY THERE ARE!!!!  Remember, if you still don't have a copy of the book, you can read it online for free on the publisher's website :o)  You'll be able to see the description of every lesson routine above.  Now I won't post every lesson routine for every level of reader, but you just had to see what an amazing resource this book is already and it's only chapter 3!

The "light bulb" moments and key points for me:
  • Certain words are pictographs in the reader's mind.  Just because they recognize words in one context does not mean they will recognize it in another (the example they gave was the word Crest on the toothpaste tube).
  • Not necessarily talking about connections based on the cover because their thoughts won't relate to what the book is about and the conversation can go off topic.  Like a book with a sunfower on the cover and the title was  A Sun, A Flower.  Kids can go in all different directions but the book is about compound words!
  • There needs to be A LOT of repetition!
  • Guiding sequence for emergent readers only lasts about two days.  The texts usually only need that much time and you want to expose them to as many books as possible.
  • Introdcing letter-sound correspondence is most effective in K-1 because they're the only age group with a larger speaking than writing vocabulary.  In K-1 when a student sounds out a word, they will most likely recognize it, but when an intermediate student sounds out a word, it is usually unfamiliar and they won't know what it means.
  • Loved how she called the copyright the book's "birthday"
I would have absolutely LOVED to know some of these lesson routines when I was a Reading Assisstant! They would have helped me out tremendously. I do not know much about emergent readers as I have always taught intermediate but frankly the thought terrifies me, lol.  These teachers are really building a foundation where, for a lot of kids, there was nothing before.  This chapter was very helpful in my understanding and I can't wait to delve into the rest of the chapters as the reading process continues!

If you check out the Guided Reading link at the beginning of this post, you will find that our book study host Beth has compiled some amazing resources from other blog experts on guided reading.  Don't forget to also check out this chapter's host Jennifer from Rowdy in First and give her some love!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reader's Toolkit (*FREEBIE*)

Yesterday I gave my review and thoughts on Guiding Readers Chapter 2 and mentioned at the very end about Lori Rog's Reader's Toolkit.  So of course after reading what she had to say about their effectiveness, I had to make my own!  Her Reader's Toolkit is a little bit different in that she spiral binds it (like a book) to hold a little golf pencil.  Really, there are so many different ways to create them and I would love to hear your thoughts and see your Reader's Toolkit!

To create my Reader's Toolkit I simply took a colored file folder and cut it in half.  I also trimmed off the tab so that all edges were straight.  On the inside left I placed three different sizes of sticky notes (you could put anything you want) and I might add some paper clips later on if the lessons call for them.  On the inside right I glued a chart reminding students when it is appropriate to use sticky notes, because let's face it, those suckers are expensive and I don't want kids getting too "sticky happy" throughout the whole year! ;o)  As you can tell, I'm being my regular OCD self and I rounded the corners on the chart once I saw the pictures, LOL.  The back is left blank and to be used as a sticky note holder if for some reason they cannot take their text with them.

If you click on the images below you will be able to download both the front cover and sticky note reminder chart.  I only made 15 of these for my guided reading groups instead of one per student.  Writing down our thoughts while we're reading is definitely a skill (and great strategy) and one I will be teaching to the whole class but reinforcing a lot with my small groups.

Do you have your own version of a Reader's Toolkit?  If so I want to hear (and see) all about it!  And totally off topic... Have y'all seen Craft Wars?!?!?!  I AM LOVING IT!!!!!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guiding Reader's Ch. 2 - Guided Reading Lesson Sequence

Stacy from Leading and Reading and Tori from Tori's Teacher Tips are both hosting Chapter 2 of Guiding Readers and it is all about the lesson sequence.  Be sure to check them out and give them some love (they also have wonderful freebies).  I am loving this book and the thought of guided reading!  Because let's be honest... I was not OVERLY thrilled with the idea of having to do Focus Groups and Guided Reading Groups next year in my reading block.  I was worried that it would be a little redundant but in actuality the two are very different and I am way more excited about the guided reading and letting the students take over!  Here is a break down of the sequence:

Day 1: text introduction and first reading - focus on basic accuracy and understanding
Day 2: rereading of text - focus on comprehension and word study
Day 3 (and sometimes more): rereading of text - extension of thinking, focus on text structures or writer's craft, often includes a writing experience

I know it seems obvious but sometimes we get caught up in everything else we have to do and planning for more groups just falls by the wayside but for this to be effective your lessons will need to vary according to the needs of the learners, the goals of the lesson, and the nature of the text.  And be flexible to spontaneous teachable moments!

I really liked the Three P's to Book Introduction!
  1. Preview - It can be a one sentence summary or page by page picture walk (discuss what you see and introduce key vocab ONLY if the text does not offer enough context clues for them to figure it out).
  2. Purpose - be upfront as to why we're reading that text.  You want students to set their own goals and be able to adjust their reading rate & style to the purpose of reading.
  3. Prior Knowledge - what we already know about this topic, drawing analogies to another book, invite students to make a connection to a personal experience.  If they don't have the background info or don't know how to access it - Preteaching!
The "Light bulb" Moments for me:
  • Text level and word level comprehension goals (I seem to mostly focus on text strategies as opposed to word, now I will def be adding those goals in!)
  • "Being able to read a level 9 texts tells us some information about the reader but not what they need to get to level 10."
  • Need easy-peasy texts, just like the shallow end when you are learning how to swim (She has THE BEST analogies, lol, very relatable).  Tough texts are for read-aloud and shared reading.
  • "Must do" - practice what was learned in GRG before moving on to other independent learning routines
  • Teachers are prompting, questioning, and explaining while students are reading!
  • Tips, Tools, and Techniques: establish routines, minimize transition, eliminate interruptions (would LOVE this!), build in assessment (need to let go and realize that it is okay for us to devote instructional time to this), and manage materials.
Lori talks about some of her materials she manages and one of them is the Reader's Toolkit.  I loved the idea of this and will be creating my own!  Check them out tomorrow!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Made It #3 - LEARN Letters

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted but we went out of town for a wedding and had a crazy fun time! Now we are dealing with Tropical Storm Debbie, but I somehow still found time to finish my Monday Made It project, lol. I will be posting my Guiding Readers Chapter 2 Review tomorrow as well (trying to play catch up).

Like I said, I'm linking up again with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. This week, really the past few weeks, I have been creating my LEARN letters to put on top of my cabinets. I saw on Pinterest these wonderful CREATE letters from Mrs. Knights Smartest Artists and knew I had to have them for my cabinets as well. This past year was the first time I had ever had above cabinet space and I had nothing to put there! I eventually put the student's projects up there but there was still blank space for a good portion of the year. Now I have wonderful 3-D letters! I wanted the two feet letters but they were just a little to tall and, truth be told, a little too skinny for what I wanted to put on them. So these letters are about a foot tall and block lettering and seem to fit all the do-dads I glued on them nicely!


Tomorrow I will be heading into my classroom so I will take a picture of what they look like on top of my cabinets.  The do-dads on the letters are:
L - crayons
E - glitter yarn (just keep wrapping around)
A - green and blue buttons
R - map with scrapbook embellishments
N - pencils (cut with a coping saw and flatten edges with sand paper - SUPER EASY)

I have been seeing everyone else's letters and I'm just loving what everyone is coming up with!  Have I mentioned how much I love this linky and I am getting so much done!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guiding Readers Chapter 1 - What We Know

Today it begins... my very first book study!  You should go check out Misty over at Think, Wonder, & Teach, she has done an amazing review of Chapter 1.  I also wanted to give you my thoughts on it, so here is my quick recap.  I'm still pretty new to teaching and luckily I have worked at some great schools that give us creative reign over our reading blocks.  That being said, the district is making a big push for Guided Reading this year and I wanted to know more about the specifics of it (because after reading chapter 1, the focus groups I was working with WAS NOT GUIDED READING).  It was purely working with a small group for 30 minutes on a focus skill that they needed.  Was it beneficial?  For the most part, yes, but after reading "you have two ears and one mouth," and realizing that I should be doing more listening and less talking in these groups I knew that they could be better.

I was really excited when I started reading this book because already from the first chapter there were things that I was doing in my classroom that I realized I could improve on and things that I was doing right (which always makes you feel good)!  One of the things that I'm excited about is our Reader's Workshop.  The studets write me letters once a week about what they are reading, their thoughts and feelings, predictions, using the strategy of the week, etc., and I write them back.  Definitely connecting their reading and their writing I feel!  Now I want to think of some more creative ways to incorporate writing.  If anyone has other ideas please let me know!

The "Light bulb" Moments for me:
  • Guided Reading is the "We Do" of a lesson
  • Independent learning should be student directed and engaging in what was practiced in guided reading groups - Reading, Writing, "Must-do" (Ch. 2)
  • LOVED the analogy of the just right books to standing on your tiptoes!!!
  • The 90/10 percent (challenging words) when put into context was an eye opener of how many words were too difficult for them to read on each page.  200 words on each page = 20 challenging words per page!
  • Use easier text to reinforce strategies and skill and revisit the text
  • When revisiting the text provide a different purpose each day
  • Students have different ways of learning so why not different ways of thinking?  Don't get upset with the student who keeps on talking out their response - they are just thinking out loud.  Or the student who doesn't answer right away - they are just thinking internally for the right way to say it before they put their words out there. 
  • Three or more 18 minute sequences of guided reading lessons with each passage (this made me feel better because in my mind the title made me think that it all had to fit in one session)
  • The reading-writing connection helps them think about what they are reading

Those are just a few, haha.  The book is really great so far and I can't wait to delve more into it.  Remember if you haven't received your copy of the book yet, or just want to follow along, you can still go Stenhouse Publisher's website and read an online copy for free!  I would love to know what you all think so far so please feel free to leave comments (and don't forget to go give Misty some love too!).


Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Made It #2 - Book Recommendation Carousel

It's Moday Made It time and I've once again linked up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics!  I feel like I have been nonstop crafting and it is taking over my house.  Thankfully this linky party is making me finish these projects instead of just jumping around.  This week's creation is my Book Recommendation Carousel.

I found this great idea on Pinterest (where would we be without it?) and wanted to recreate it but for student's book recommendations.  Last year I had a sports theme and I made a baseball bat poster that said "Sure Hits" and students wrote down books that they thought were amazing.  It was great up until it was so full you couldn't read any of the books anymore.  This year I wanted to break it up by genre since they will be doing the 30 book challenge from the Book Whisperer.

The genre posters are from Beth Newingham but I did recreate some of them so the books were more on the 5th grade level (she teaches third).  The book recommendation sheet I created on Word and put it on top of fancy paper from JoAnn's.  Slide it into a sheet protector and place them in the binder rings.  Close the binder rings around the paper towel holder and you're done!  This could be used for a number of things, including showing off student's work!  If you have any more ideas for the carousel I would LOVE to hear them!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Ladies of the Guiding Readers Book Study

Beth from Thinking of Teaching has posted a wonderful calendar on her blog to help you follow along on our journey.  Click on any of the buttons and be instantly taken to the blog that is hosting that chapter.  We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas as well!

Along with Beth's calendar I have also created a bookmark!  Just cut it out and glue them back to back and you have yourself a new bookmark to help keep you on track.  If you open it in the PDF file, you can also click on the blog names/website address and be taken directly to that blog!  I hope you enjoy and visit all these wonderful ladies and their amazing blogs.

Happy Reading Y'all!

*If you have not yet received your copy of the book, you can follow along at the Stenhouse Publishers website (the whole book is online). Just click on the preview online button!*


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Monday Made It #1 - Crafty Clipboards

Ok, it's official... This linky party stuff is addictive!  I've just joined another one with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics.

Every Monday I'll upload one of the many crafts I'm creating this summer!  Since I already have a few going I better get some of them finished, lol!  The theme for my classroom this year seems to be Pinterest so be prepared.  I'm sure when I start to look at everyone else's creations I will be making a lot more - this could be dangerous.  I'm so excited!!!

Here is my newest obsession - Crafty Clipboards.  I will be making 20 of these bad boys.  Yes, you read that right... 20!  I will be putting them up in a grid formation on one of my blank walls and this will be where students display their wonderful work.  I haven't decided what to call it yet, but I want it to be something clever and catchy.

Sorry the pictures are a little dark and fuzzy, I took the pictures with my phone)
Surprisingly these were not as difficult (or expensive) to make as anticipated.  I got the clipboards from Office Depot for $1/each (they are always that price) and the paper from Michaels and Jo-Anns with coupons and sales.  The best advice I can give anyone making these is to create a template when making your first board.  It will save you hours of time in the long run.  Once you've cut your paper to your liking, spread modge podge on the clipboard and then attach the paper.  Be careful, it sticks easily!  Once you've smoothed it down with your hand take a pan scrapper or an old credit card and run it across your paper to get all the air bubbles out.  Trust me - they're there.  When you have glued all your paper and embelishments on give the whole thing another coat of Modge Podge and voila!  You've created your own crafty clipboard.  These are also great for teacher appreciation gifts ;o).  Until next Monday...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Reading Linky

Well now that I am offically part of my first book study through the blog I figured why not join up to a linky party (or two)?!  One of my most favorite things to do of all time is READ!  My Kindle is the second best thing I've ever bought in my life, the first is our dog Bailey (if that tells you anything).  So I joined Mrs. Bainbridge's and Mrs. Stanford's linky parties and can't wait to hear what everyone else is reading to add it to my ever growing pile!

This summer there seem to be far more professional books in my pile than pleasure, but that doesn't seem to be bothering me.  That obviously means that I'm in the right profession!  So here is my summer reading list so far:

The Daily Five and CAFE (read this last year but totally worth a second look) by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Guiding Readers: Making the Most of the 18-Minute Guided Reading Lesson by Lori Jamison Rog

(This is my book study!  I'll be reviewing chapter 6 on July 8th-11th)

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Power Reading Workshop by Laura Candler

Whew!  I think that's it... I feel like I might be missing one but let's hope not, lol.  Now for the good stuff that keeps me sane when I just need a break from life:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Just finished it and LOVED it)

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (#2 in the trilogy)

Death Cure by James Dashner (#3 in the trilogy)

Susan Mallery's newest books - Let's face it, I love a good cheesey romance novel where I know there will be a happy ending and her books make me laugh out loud!  Just can't help but fall in love with her characters.

Get started on the 2012-2013 Sunshine State Books (15) - I can't let the kids beat me this year!

So there in all it's wonderful glory is my summer reading list y'all!  What are you reading this summer?  Any recommendations?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guiding Readers Book Study

I am excited to announce that I will be part of the Guiding Readers Book Study starting June 18th with Beth from Thinking of Teaching!  She is hosting but a lot of other wonderful blogs have already signed on to help out.  The TBA authors will be hosting the chapters and sharing their thoughts and ideas.  Beth will also be hosting a linky party for each chapter so that everyone can join in on the fun.  I can't wait to hear what everyone else thinks and how they plan to implement these great ideas into their classrooms!

We will be reading Guiding Readers: Making the Most of the 18 Minute Guided Lesson by Lori Jamison Rog.  I realize the book is not sold on Amazon (don't worry, I was also shocked to my core), but you can buy a copy, or the e-book, on the publisher's website, Pembroke Publishers.   

Hurry and get your copy today... The book study starts NEXT WEEK!!!!  Can you tell I'm excited? ;o)


Monday, June 11, 2012

My new Blog Button!

Here is my new blog button in all it's rustic glory!  I know it's a little small and I might try and make it larger one day but I cannot tell y'all what a hassel this has been for me.  Sometimes I like to think that I am a pretty tech savy gal... NOT FOR THIS!  This took me forever to figure out (and that is with help from Mr. S and lots of other smart women from the web).  So for now, this is it! LOL

A huge thanks goes out to Oikology 101 for giving me the simplest explanation when nothing was going right.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Classroom Economy

One thing that I wanted to implement this upcoming year was a classroom economy.  My last experience with a real classroom economy was during my senior internship and I loved the effectiveness of it.  So upon hours of research and looking at what other teachers do in their classroom, I think I have created something great that will work for us.  I wanted it to be as life like as I could make it without it being too much work for me throughout the year.

First up is our classroom job chart.  This past year I was REALLY bad about switching jobs on a regular basis and hopefully this will help with that.  By doing it this way every student will have a job and get a weekly salary based on their job.  Some jobs require more time than others which is why the salaries are different.  The students will keep their jobs for twelve weeks (the length of our trimesters) and be able to switch for the second and third trimesters. 

At the beginning of the year they will fill out an application for a job and check off three jobs that they feel comfortable doing for twelve weeks.  We will have gone over each job at this point, so there shouldn't be any surprises when they are required to do something during the year.  If at the end of the twelve weeks they realize that they do not want one of their checked off job choices (or just plain don't remember what they chose), they can always change their picks before the second or third term jobs are selected.  I got my Classroom Job Application from Mrs. Sanchez's site but tweaked it a little to meet our classroom needs.

Throughout the year there will be ways to earn money and lose money.  Just like in real life they will have to pay rent (desk), insurance (chair), and bills (electric, internet, and trash) every month.  They will also have to pay "fines" for not having homework or their materials ready or being disrespectful.  They can earn money through their salary, behavior color week, good behavior, etc.

Every week our economists will check that students correctly inputted their debits and credits in their checkbook register.  At the end of every trimester we will have an auction where students can spend their hard earned money on things like extras of books I have, magazines, dollar store items, candy, homework passes, sit with a friend at lunch pass, mystery envelopes, etc.  The last auction always has bigger and better items for those that have been saving all year.

The kids really seem to respond when it comes to the money that they earned.  They worked hard for it and they work hard to keep it.  The first few weeks will be a lot of modeling but I'm hoping that after the first month this classroom economy should be soley run by the students themselves!