Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Scoop

Happy Sunday, everyone. I'm linking up with Kristen, Juliet, and Cassie at The Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop. 

I spent some of Friday night and last night grading reading journals, but I have more correcting to do. Yesterday I did NO school work, because I hung out at my friend's house ALL DAY. The kids played, and we chatted and drank coffee. Since I rested yesterday, today is payday. The bag was very, very full this weekend. My lesson plans are all in my brain, but need to be transferred to my plan book.  

My son keeps coming out of his room with shirts that are too short! They seem almost big enough until he stretches. I really need to get in his room, purge his clothing, and see what he needs for the fall and winter. 

My husband, the kids, and I are heading to the apple orchard today. It's a gorgeous day for it. You'll notice I said I hope to EAT apple pie, not BAKE it.  My husband is the baker around here. If it were up to me, all apple pies would be store bought and not that yummy.  I will help peel and cut the apples though!

Enjoy your day and have a great week!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Character Scarecrows

A while back, I came across some photos on my hard drive. Scarecrow photos! Several years ago, each class in our school created a scarecrow dressed like a book character. Some classes wrote a short piece from the character as an introduction. They were set out for all to see, and I took SO MANY pictures. 

Since scarecrows make me think of fall, I thought I'd share. 

My class made Junie B. Jones.  Above, you can see Junie B. and a younger version of me. Each student in my class helped to sew on some of Junie B.'s hair. What sorts of whole school activities does your school do?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Five for Friday

I had such a great week with my students! We've FINALLY hit our stride! Thank goodness!  It was so nice to have a thoroughly enjoyable week. My students are starting to be much more responsible, and they're becoming a class family. I'm loving it!  I'm celebrating Friday by linking up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching

At the dinner table one night, we were talking about the word insulted. Seth had shared how a student called him a nerd once, and he replied, "Thank you!"  The surprised student had intended to insult Seth, but Seth turned it around on him. This led to a discussion about the word, which Gabrielle at first pronounced as "insalted".  We decided that a "new words" notebook might be fun. Gabrielle's first entry was the word insulted!

This week we've been reviewing narrative, expository, and persuasive writing. In my classroom, I have many narrative and expository books to show the students. I'm somewhat lacking in persuasive resources.  To remedy this I created a pet adoption poster, took some text from and wrote it out by hand in magenta felt tip to make it look more appealing, and asked my son to write a persuasive piece about why cats make good pets.  I also displayed an article about why people should build bat houses on the Smartboard.  The students were SO excited to read something written by my son!  Speaking of my son, how do you like his new glasses? He picked them out himself and later joked that we should get some white tape to wrap around the nose bridge!


My students read and reread Nate The Great: San Francisco Detective this week. In the story, Nate's cousin Olivia Sharp always wears a pink boa. Some of the children had no idea what that was. Then inspiration struck!  I remembered that I had boas in my drawer that I had used on a bulletin board, so I pulled one out and draped it around my neck. The students started to notice and smile. I let students who were doing an excellent job reading and discussing after each chapter take turns wearing the boas. Unfortunately, the boas were shedding feathers all over the room!  

One of the problem-solving strategies I teach is making an organized list.  The kids usually have fun with it once they get the hang of it, but it can be confusing at first.  I decided to spice up my lessons.  First, I had students come to the front of the room and don long, flowing, fake hair. I hung nametags around their necks and had them act out the first organized list problem.

After that, I gave partners a new problem and clip art created by Educlips. They manipulated the pieces to solve another organized list problem. 

The problems I used came from Make An Organized List Practice for the Entire School Year. There are 45 different problems.  Some are seasonal, but most work for any time of year. Click here or on the image below to see them in my store. 

We're about to wrap up our unit on trees in science.  I created this sort for students to glue into their science notebooks.  There are statements and pictures that are either associated with deciduous trees or evergreen trees. I'm using this as an assessment. The students worked hard and were engaged the entire time. One student (who normally is not a big fan of school) told me that science is his favorite part of the day. That made me smile. 

Have a great weekend! Thanks for visiting. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Erupting Voices Paragraph Writing

Interrupting! It's SO exhausting when you have a class with lots chatters and blurters.  And we usually do, right? I've been addressing blurting in my room. We're making slow progress!  I'd say slow and steady progress, but that would be a big, fat lie.  It's more like one step forward and two steps back!

One technique that's been helpful is the Whole Brain Teaching approach to rules.  I ignore some sporadic blurting. Many kids will take the hint and stop once they realize I'm only responding to the students who have raised their hands. 

When kids keep blurting, I say cheerfully and enthusiastically, "Rule number two!" The kids each put two fingers in the air, then drop their hands down next to their lips and make their hands "talk". As they do these gestures they say, "Raise your hand for permission to speak!"  We practice saying it over and over in cheerful, helpful voices. As one of my students puts it, we shouldn't say the rule "snottily". 

We also read My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook. Twice.  Another book we read was What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick.  The students brainstormed ideas about what would happen if everybody interrupted everyone else.  Then, they wrote paragraphs. I can take NO credit for the amazing idea to combine back-to-school books with paragraph writing lessons.  Ashleigh, from Ashleigh's Education Journey, created a thorough and excellent mini-unit.  The materials and ideas came from her! Click here to grab the product in her store. 

I have a wonderful parent volunteer who will hang the students' paragraphs in the hall.  My daughter helped me make a volcano to add to the board as well. It has glitter. What more could you ask for in a paper volcano?

Gabrielle insisted on having her mouth open. Her mouth is a volcano. Get it? Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Finally on Time Five for Friday

It's been a whirlwind of a week. My class is hilarious and high-energy!  I need to eat my Wheaties to keep up with them!   I'm thrilled that it's Friday, and I'm on time with my post. Starting during the week and working on it a bit at a time is the key! Thank you, Kacey (from Doodlebugs Teaching) for hosting this weekly linky.

As I walked into work Tuesday morning, I greeted our head custodian who has been at the school longer than I have. (A long time!) He's well-read, intelligent, hardworking, winningly sarcastic, and a hoot.  I happened to notice that his shirt sported a very important-sounding phrase: Department of Garbology. I asked if I could take a photo. He insisted that I take an action shot!

We've been working on predicting this week.  Using an idea I got from Jen Jones of Hello Literacy, I used puzzles to introduce the concept that predictions can and SHOULD be checked. Small groups of students received four puzzle pieces each.  They needed to examine the pieces and predict what the completed puzzle would look like. They wrote about their predictions and the clues they used to make them. I assigned a writer for each group.  Then, each group received the rest of their puzzle pieces with no picture to guide them. They worked together to assemble the puzzle and see if their predictions were accurate. Next, we discussed how what we learned applied to reading. The students "turned and talked" about how you would check your predictions when you read.  Some of the students even came up with little chants such as "turn the page....just turn the page...".  Others were more specific and said you had to keep reading.  One child suggested going to the end of the book and peeking! I fully intended to share the prediction sheet with you, but it's saved on my computer at work!  I'll be back to share next week. I promise!

I brought home quite a lot of correcting this week.  Usually I sit on the couch with a cup of tea and my mug of correcting pens.  I turn on some show I've already seen (usually Gilmore Girls).  Since I've seen the episodes before, it doesn't matter if I'm not paying much attention to them! Here, Sunshine and Herbie are "helping" me. 

When I arrived at work this morning, I decided to stop and take a quick picture of these cute scarecrows.  I'm not sure if a staff member or a parent decided to make this area so welcoming, but it's appreciated!

Gabrielle's dream come true....her own TAPE DISPENSER!  She's also been given a ration of tape.  She kept using all of ours. When we ran out, she added it to the shopping list on the refrigerator.  She now has her very own tape, and is NOT allowed to touch ours!

Photos of classroom happenings are slim this week! My class is so much fun, but they are a very hands-on group!  They keep me hopping. I'm exhausted but having a blast with them. 

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for stopping by!