Monday, September 29, 2014

Scripture Sunday Linky On a Monday

Welcome to a new week, everyone! I'm linking up with For His Glory Teaching (a day late) for their bi-weekly Scripture Sunday linky. The verse I chose this week is a favorite of mine.  It's best read in context, though!  Click [here] to read more.   You can print out a copy of the image below by clicking on it.  I'm thinking of putting the verse in a page protector and slipping it into the back of my planning binder.  Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Scoop

Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop linky is always a fun way to connect each week.  Head over to their blog to read "the scoop" on everyone else.

Have a great week! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Closer Look at My Sub Tub

It's almost the end of September, and I FINALLY have my Sub Tub filled.  Before the students arrived on August 27th, I had prepared one full day of emergency plans and materials plus a few extra items.  Now, it's fairly stuffed!  Here's a closer look at what's in there!


This is the first year I've actually created a sub binder.  It would always take me SO long to prepare for a substitute.  That was a pain but doable when I knew ahead of time that I would be out.  It did not work so well when I woke up sick, or I had a sick child. My teammate and I still occasionally talk about the time I called him at 6 a.m.  My son, age 2, had croup and was barking like a very unwell seal over the phone line!  I have a 45 minute commute to work.  In the past, I usually ended up typing and emailing lesson plans to a colleague at 5 a.m.  Not fun for me!  Not fun for my colleagues either!
My sub binder includes the following:  
  • Allergy and Emergency Information and Procedures
  • Attendance sheets with instructions: Lots of them!
  • Class list: Lots of copies!
  • List of students who leave the classroom: Who, When, Where, Why
  • Daily Schedule
  • Specials Schedule
  • Several copies of a form for a substitute to fill out to let me know how the day went

The plans I included in my sub tub came from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click on the preview picture below to see them in my store. Each day of third grade plans has reading activities based on Aesop's fables.  I've also included spelling, writing, and math activities.

There is definitely more included in the plans than a substitute will be able to use.  My goal was to make the materials valuable, engaging, but not too difficult for a substitute to implement.   My emergency substitute plans were so much fun for me to create.  I actually want to just USE them instead of sticking them in the sub tub.  Last June, I actually DID pull out some of my fables to use with my class.  I just had to.  If you are a 1st or 2nd grade teacher, there are bundles available for you too! Click on the images to see them in my store.


The sub plans I created do NOT include science or social studies activities.  So, I've placed some social studies and science read-aloud options in my Sub Tub. I wrote brief notes and attached them to each book with teaching points that will connect the texts to what we've learned in the classroom.

I hope this peek into my sub tub has been at least a little bit helpful!  I'd love to hear what kinds of materials you prepare in case of an unexpected absence.  Leave me a comment! 

Five for Friday

Friday!  My job is such a blessing, but I definitely LOVE Fridays!  Happy weekend everyone! I'm linking up, as usual, with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday.  

It's getting cooler here in Connecticut!  The leaves are starting to turn.  There are fields full of goldenrod.  A student brought me a very cute pumpkin, which his family grew.  Fall is my favorite season, and it always goes by too quickly.  My husband installed an electric fireplace, which we've been enjoying at night while watching episodes of Royal Pains on Netflix.  The living room seems so cozy now!  

Mysteries!  This week, we started guided reading groups.  Each group is reading a mystery.  We kicked off our mystery unit with a hunt for clues.  My creative and hardworking teammate/coteacher
had the great idea to hide clues around the classroom.  One student at a time read a clue, which led him/her to another clue.  The final clue led to the "Book Hospital" where envelopes with each child's name were hidden.  Inside each envelope was the student's assigned book and his/her "Case File" notebook. The booklets were created by Amy Lemons and are part of her Mystery Genre Mini-Unit. I really like them, because they are open-ended enough to allow for differentiation.  There are lots of other goodies in the mini-unit as well.  You can get the booklets in Amy's TPT store by clicking here.  

This week, we started NWEA testing.  The time it takes and the disruption to the schedule kind of bug me, but I try not to get frustrated by it.  Part of the problem for me is that the test is new, and I haven't yet seen how it will help me do a better job differentiating for my students.  I'm hoping to glean some valuable information from the data.  My students seem completely interested in the process and have been very positive about it so far. My first day of testing was Tuesday morning, and the fourth grade teachers were such a huge help.  They helped me set up all of the laptops and get the student screens up and ready to go.  I was SO thankful for their help. I work with some truly amazing people.  

Star Wars according to a 3-year-old! I came across this You Tube video a long time ago and pinned it right away.  I watch it whenever I need some comic relief.  It's included in this week's Five for Friday in case you need some comic relief, too!

The unit I'm doing in math right now is, in my opinion, oddly organized.  We started with a basic review of what addition and subtraction MEAN and applied that knowledge to word problems.  We reviewed fact families and talked about WHEN to subtract (take away, when comparing two amounts, and to find the unknown part of a whole).  From there, we moved on to mental math strategies for addition and subtraction.  Next up is rounding and then using rounding skills to estimate sums and differences. 

Last year, I created a comprehensive set of practice activities.  I knew my students would need more practice with rounding than our math program provided. I also knew that what I created would be more engaging and...well...cuter!  While I managed to learn just fine without cute products when I was a 3rd grader, a little cuteness never hurts!  

I'll be using these materials a lot over the next couple of weeks.  Some of them will be used during our main math block. We also have a thirty-minute math intervention block daily.  The students either work in centers or receive interventions during that time. I'm sure these materials will make an appearance in centers.  There are differentiated task cards, a "roll and round' activity, and some word problems that require students to round and estimate.  There is also an additional practice sheet for estimating sums and differences.  If you are interested, you can click on the image below or [here] to find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store

Head on over to Doodlebugs Teaching to read about everyone else's week.  I like to settle in on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and have a blog-reading session.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fabulous Fall Friends Giveaway at Teacher Treasure Hunter

My students have been taking NWEA tests this week.  They're being troopers, but the wacky schedule is always tiring.  Today, we were supposed to test from 1:45 to 2:45.  I rearranged my recess, which we had indoors because of rain.  Then I quickly assigned homework, gave my "do your best" pep talk, and led my students to the room full of laptops.  I tried to log in to the site to start the testing session, and... NOTHING!  So, I had a room full of 3rd graders waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  My teammate was having the same problem in the computer lab.  It wasn't our Internet connection, so the problem was obviously something glitchy with the NWEA site.  My principal tried to call NWEA to see what the problem was but had no success. So.... We headed back to class.  It was kind of nice actually. The kids read, and then we worked in our "tree booklets".  We'll try again tomorrow. I'm sure the glitch (or whatever) will be resolved by then!

Now, for the giveaway news!

Melissa at Teacher Treasure Hunter is holding a huge fall product giveaway.  She is celebrating over 4,000 Teacher Treasure Hunter followers on Pinterest and over 1,500 on TPT! Over 75 Teachers Pay Teachers sellers have donated products.  The prizes are divided up into groups so there will be 9 winners! The giveaway will end at midnight (PST) on September 30, 2014.  I've donated product to her 2nd Grade Math Bundle and the 3rd Grade ELA Bundle.  There are prize packages available for grades K through 5.  Melissa has even created some beautiful fall freebie posters to share.  Head over to enter.  Good luck!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

It's time for another midweek link up with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice!  

During the summer, my kids and I go to the library regularly.  We borrow piles of books.  During the school year, I limit our trips because of my terrible habit of forgetting to return things.  Late fees can add up quickly! The book Cat Power by Daniel Kirk is my daughter's absolute favorite library book! The book is full of cat-related poems.  Some are funny.  Some are more serious.  Some are kind of gross! I must admit that some of our favorites are a little inappropriate for the classroom.  For example, there's "The Litter Box"!  We recite it from memory at our house!  I'm not sure my students' parents would be thrilled if I used THAT poem in class! 

At the moment, most of our library books are returned.  I do still have two audio books on CD in my car.  I like to listen to them during my 45 minute commute.  Today, I started Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan.  I laughed out loud a couple of times.  If you haven't read the book and/or seen the movie, I highly recommend both!

Do you take advantage of your local library?  Do you or your children have favorite books?  Do you ever borrow Kindle books?  Are you a fan of audio books?  I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments.  

Don't forget to stop in at Sugar and Spice to read other Wordless Wednesday posts.  Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I'm linking up with Juliet, Kristen, and Nikki at Teaching Trio for their Sunday Scoop linky.  This is my first link-up, and I am hoping that my posts won't look exactly the same each week!  Once school starts, it's mostly about the routine.  Maybe this link up will prompt me to get out and do more fun, not-part-of-routine activities.  I hope you have a great week!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Five for Friday

It's Friday!  That means 3 things:  
1.  Tonight my family will be having a fire in our fire pit. 
2.  I can sleep in tomorrow!
3.  It's time for another Five for Friday link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching.  

Beginning third graders often have a difficult time learning how to explain mathematical processes in writing. My students are already starting to show some progress, but most still aren't quite sure how to communicate their thinking.  So far, I've been doing lots of modeling, and we've constructed some responses together.  I was correcting math papers the other day, and was pleased to read the response pictured above on a student's paper.  I decided to start doing "Wow Work" models periodically.  I created a very simple slide in Power Point.  I'll display it on the Smartboard, and we'll discuss why it is a strong response.  I plan to use "Wow Work" models for reading responses and written pieces as well.  

On Sunday afternoon my husband, the kids, and I went for a drive. The weather was way too nice to stay in the house.  We ended up stopping in at Goodwill.  We spent about an hour looking for books. My children each chose some books.  I got the entire Anne of Green Gables series...for myself.  Most of the books we purchased were for my classroom library.  Goodwill is such a great place to find lots of titles, and it's FUN to shop.

These came from our local Farmers' Market.  The brownish ones are called chocolate bell peppers (or
something like that).  They don't taste anything like chocolate, but they were sweet and yummy. October is the last month for Farmers' Markets around here.  Fall is on the way.  

In my last Five for Friday post, I said that I planned to use the differentiated place value cards from my Apple Season Math and Literacy Activities.  I did use them, and they were a big hit.  It is so much fun to see students excited about math.  My group that needed a bit of a challenge worked on the carpet with clipboards. I gave them the "apple tree" set of task cards, which has numbers with 4 to 6 digits. Most of the students used the "basket of apples" cards, which have four-digit numbers. I hung the cards around the room, and students walked around with clipboards solving each problem.  A third group of students used the set of "applesauce" cards in a small group with support.  The applesauce cards have three-digit numbers.  Although the cards in the set have colorful clip art, I usually just print in gray scale.  The students never seem to mind!  Next week, I'll be using the literacy activities during center times.  I usually plan four centers per week, and students rotate through them.  

Over the past two years, the grade level teams in my school spent a LOT of time creating reading units that align with the Common Core State Standards for reading literature and reading informational text.  We've started our first unit, which focuses heavily on character traits.  One of the resources we have is a Harcourt anthology. We use several of the selections in the anthologies, but we teach them differently than we used to.  We started with Officer Buckle and Gloria and wrote about Officer Buckle's character traits. One of my students wrote that Officer Buckle was gullible, because Gloria fooled him so easily!  I was quite impressed! We moved on to Nate the Great: San Francisco Detective. (Another anthology selection.)  Partners read together.  I had prepared "Stop and Discuss" questions. They needed to stop after reading a chapter and discuss the questions.  I am excited to be team-teaching inclusion reading with an AMAZING colleague.  I also have the support of an extremely qualified instructional assistant. It was SO GREAT, because we were able to circulate and listen to all of the students read and discuss the text.  In the photos above, some of the students were enjoying other Nate the Great books and Jigsaw Jones books during an independent reading time.  Next week, my class will continue reading mysteries. My colleague and I will plan guided reading groups. Since there are so many adults in the room, we'll be able to see every group daily!

Don't forget to head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what everyone else has been up to this week.  Have a great weekend!