Sunday, November 29, 2015

Report Cards and Christmas Carols

The beginning of December is always report card time. This year, they're getting sent home on December 4th.  


This afternoon, I took a break from report cards to Christmas it up with my family. Tree decorated. Check. Lights strung. Check. New Linus ornament on the tree! Check.

Saying no to a curious kitten who would like to CLIMB the tree. Check. Check. Check. And check. 

Cookies baked. Check!

Christmas carols. Check.

What have you been up to?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Five for Friday

Five for Friday? This will be more like Notes for November! It's been busy, busy, busy. It's been awhile since I linked up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday.

My husband laminated all of my Thanksgiving centers for me earlier this month. I got a lot of use out of them.  My students used rounding task cards, story problem cards, and contraction cards from my Thanksgiving Math and Literacy Activities.  


 During my content area block, I used this great product by Undercover Classroom. She creates a bag book with her students. Her pages also fit perfectly into notebooks, and that's what I used. These pictures don't really do the product justice, so you might want to check it out in her store. 

My birthday was November 21st, and my husband spoiled me as usual.  When I came home the night before my birthday, he had lit up the entire front of the house with red and green laser lights.  I tried to take a photo to share with you, but it was too blurry!

Gabrielle's birthday was the day before Thanksgiving. She got some new Beanie Boos (two were from her brother).  She picked out Fruit Loops and pineapple for her birthday breakfast. I know. Ick. She woke up on her birthday morning to a few presents on the table, birthday napkins, a balloon, and her breakfast choices.  After dinner we had cake and a couple more presents. Then we had a family movie night and watched Inside Out. 


I didn't do any Black Friday shopping, but I'll probably do some Cyber Monday shopping at Teachers Pay Teachers! There's a sitewide sale November 30th-December 1st. My entire store will be on sale for 20% off INCLUDING ALREADY DISCOUNTED BUNDLES. If you enter the code SMILE at checkout, TPT will give you an additional 10% off of that! The sale will be a great opportunity to pick up some great products for December and beyond!

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for stopping by.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! 
I hope your day is wonderful and that you have much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gabrielle's Veterans Day Stations

Most schools have the day off today, but not my daughters' STUFFED ANIMAL SCHOOL. Oh no. Those children stuffed animals students are learning all about veterans. My daughter is accomplishing this by setting up stations for them to rotate through.

Tip: You may not want to incorporate all of these ideas in your own classroom! Gabrielle's grasp of the content she is teaching is shaky at best. Let that be a lesson to the rest of us!

Station One: Read-aloud
See the students waiting oh-so-patiently to hear the book about Veterans Day? Gabrielle wrote the book this morning. As every good teacher knows, if you can't find the perfect resource you just have to make it yourself! 

The text reads:
Don't be scared of veterans. There's nothing you should fear!  We fly our flag for Veterans Day, every single year! Veterans use big tanks sometimes. Hurray! Hurray! For Veterans Day!

I'm thinking a more thorough and accurate Veterans Day article is in Gabrielle's future.  

Station Two: Tank Station
At this station, the students can pretend they're in tanks.  Apparently, Gabrielle thinks all veterans used tanks! Like I said, some nonfiction is in her future. 

Station Three: Movie
Gabrielle inherited this toy laptop from her brother. Today it was standing in as a movie screen so Gabrielle's students could watch a movie about veterans.  It's hard to see, but beside them there is a bowl of "popcorn" (crumpled up pieces of paper).  Gabrielle is WAY nicer to her students than I am to mine! I never have tanks and popcorn in class.  

Station Four: Reading

These students are reading books about Veterans Day.  Gabrielle created them herself.  They have titles such as, Woo Hoo Veterans! and Is That a Veteran?  

I hope you enjoyed this bit of silliness and creativity. 

Most importantly, I'd like to say thank you so much to all veterans and their families.  Your willingness to sacrifice for your country is respected and so deeply appreciated. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Shout Out for Shot Glasses

Please don't be appalled. It's not what you think! Believe it or not, I've actually never used a shot glass for its intended purpose. I have, however, found some handy uses for plastic shot cups in my classroom. Of course, we refer to them as tiny cups!

Do you ever plan activities that require tiny pieces? When I set up Place Value Bullseye, I put the googly eyes into shot miniature cups.  Each student had his or her own.  

A math facts activity my students do a lot is Addition Roll, Add, and Compare. I have lots of different types of dice, and I wanted to be sure students grabbed the correct ones. So, I set up dice cups. [More about my dice stash here.] It saved time and confusion, and the kids thought it was just terrific. Third graders are very easy to please!  If you wanted to, you could put different dice into different cups to differentiate. 

Another idea I plan to try came from Miss Cosby from You Might Be a First Grader. Students practice spelling words using miniature cups with letters on them. Vowels get written on one color, and consonants get written on the other color.

What types of unusual supplies do you use to keep your students organized and engaged? I'd love to read your ideas in the comments. 

Sunday Scoop

It's a sunny Sunday, and I'm linking up with The Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop. 

I keep putting off opening that big bag of correcting. I did a lot during the week, but there's NEVER enough time to finish everything. I'll be on the couch with my cup of correcting pens, a cup of tea, my lap desk, and many piles of papers for a good portion of the day!  I'll probably turn on Gilmore Girls. I've seen all the episodes, so it won't matter if I'm not really paying attention. The background noise will make me feel like I'm not REALLY working. 

My students are working on writing narratives from a turkey's point of view. So far they've written entertaining beginnings, a description of the setting, and suspense. Next up? The main event! Since I don't know of any mentor texts that are exactly what I'm looking for, I will be writing my own main event to share as a model. 

At the moment, I have no ingredients for lunches this week. I need to head to the store and purchase salad fixings and other staples.

I have plenty of noun activities, but none are Thanksgiving-themed. Perhaps I'll feel creative and make something.  We'll see!

I'm sorry to say that the bulletin board in my classroom still has our mathematicians from August! It's time for a change. I'm not sure yet what's going up there, but I need to think of something!

Have a good week! Stop by The Teaching Trio for more Sunday Scoops.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Five for Friday

I'm loving that it's the weekend. My week was great, but it felt long! It was nice to sleep in and go out to lunch today. I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday.

 We've started working on reading multisyllabic words with common prefixes. Many third graders have a bad habit of either guessing or coming to a dead stop when they encounter longer, unfamiliar words. Working on prefixes and suffixes should help with that while also building vocabulary.

I introduced a unit on addition with regrouping and was thrilled to realize that my students TOTALLY REMEMBER IT FROM 2ND GRADE! I quickly pulled out the foam dice and had students roll and add.  I circulated around checking work and encouraging many students to challenge themselves. For some students, I provided dice that went up to 9 so they would need to regroup more often.

My students have been learning about Connecticut Native American tribes and their history. My teaching assistant brought in a black bear skin for the students to examine. It prompted some interesting discussion, and there was LOTS of petting.

The children just finished writing the suspense portion of their turkey point-of-view stories. I thought this one was particularly cute. In case you can't read it, it says, "In the blink of an eye I saw cars pulling in the driveway with frying pans in their backseats." Another student described his turkey's fear by writing, "I thought my heart would pound right out of my feathered chest!" Their stories are hilarious so far. I can't wait to see what they come up with next!

This coming Tuesday will be a whole-school pajama day. I've decided to just embrace the silliness.  I bought new puppy dog pajama bottoms, a long-sleeved black tee-shirt, and some fuzzy slippers with pompoms.  My son wanted me to buy Oscar the Grouch pajama bottoms. Do you think he was trying to tell me something? I'm sharing this photo now, because I will NOT be sharing a photo of me wearing these!

Have a great week! Stop by Doodlebugs Teaching to see more fun Five for Friday posts. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thinking Like Turkeys: An Update

Turkeys are fun.  I've always thought so. In my opinion, they're one of the most interesting birds around, and I'm so glad that my state has lots of them. 

Since November is the perfect time for all things turkey, my students are writing narratives from a turkey's point of view.  

We've learned about writing entertaining beginnings. Please excuse the quick, definitely NOT Pinterest-worthy chart that I quickly created. My colleague and I taught the techniques for beginnings. We modeled. Students wrote their beginnings and shared them aloud.

Next, we reviewed using our five senses to describe a setting. We focused on varied sentence beginnings. Students wrote their own descriptions, but first we wrote this description together as a shared writing exercise. Before they shared their ideas with the whole group, students "turned and talked" about specific details that might be included. When we do shared writing, we use the Smartboard most of the time. We work together to draft and revise.

Just today, we worked on using hints and "red flag words" to create suspense. Here's what we came up with together.

The techniques I use to teach narrative writing are from the Empowering Writers program.  Empowering Writers was designed by two Connecticut teachers, Barbara Mariconda and Dea Paoletta Auray, after they thoroughly researched what strong writers do. Their methodology and materials are excellent. I encourage you to check out their website for more information.

Next up will be the MAIN EVENT! I'll be back with an update when we've written more of our stories.

How do you teach writing? What techniques or approaches do you use?