Sunday, January 31, 2016

Severe Weather Projects

Collaborative research engages kids every time! I've been greatly enjoying myself during our science block. The students are working in small groups to research types of severe weather. They are so engaged that I feel rather irrelevant! That's really how it should be. I can circulate, prompt, and support instead of constantly talking. 

This particular photo was taken on a class reward day:  Pajama-Stuffed-Animal-Crazy-Hair-Hat Day!
Students chose which type of storm they wanted to research. We have tons of books, which is always nice! I also pulled some articles from  The students have been taking notes and have started creating posters to present to the class. Their topic choices were hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, thunder & lightning storms, or blizzards.

Before students started their research, I put up a passage about dust storms on the Smartboard (from of course) and modeled taking notes. 

I created this model of a final poster to give them an idea of what I was looking for. Students "turned and talked" about what made the poster successful. Using their observations, we made a list of criteria for grading the posters. 

We also made a list of presentation tips. As I shared my poster, I modeled making eye contact with the audience, speaking clearly at an appropriate volume, not rushing, and not being silly. 

The students have had so much fun doing their research and assembling their posters. I've enjoyed being able to circulate around and see which students took the lead. Sometimes, leadership qualities will show up where you least expect them!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Five for Friday

Last week I completely missed Five for Friday! This week, I started my post on Sunday afternoon and added to it throughout the week.  Thank you to Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for hosting this linky each week. 

It snowed over the weekend! Sometimes I'm sick of Connecticut. Last winter we had SO MUCH snow. But when the first significant snowfall happens, I'm happy to live in the Northeast again! The kids and I played outside and made some extremely pathetic snowmen. They were NOT our best.

Here are some scrapbook pages with photos of past snowpeople so you know we are capable of doing better!


The 3rd graders at our school worked on NWEA Map Testing this week. I created this little form for students to record their scores. Last year they were really motivated to see their own growth. 

I wrote their scores from the fall on the sheets and placed the sheets into the "Super Duper Top Secret Numbers" folder. I passed the sheets out upside down while students tested. When they finished, they wrote their scores in the winter column.

The children have been working in collaborative groups to research severe weather and prepare informational posters. My class earned a reward by filling the button jar in our classroom. So, on Tuesday we had Pajama-Stuffed-Animal-Crazy-Hair-Hat Day! You can see pictures of them taking notes in their jammies with their fluffy friends nearby.

Apparently, one of my students found answer B for this review problem hilarious! His score on the test? 100! 

I signed up to be part of a class Valentine exchange at PAWSitively Teaching. My class made their valentines and we wrote a class letter with facts about our state. It will be so much fun to get valentines and letters back from other classes. 

Have a wonderful week!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pick A Tree To Throw Your Troubles Into

Job stress. Every profession has it.

As teachers we tend to worry about our students when things aren't going well, and it can leave us feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. Taking that worry home is easy to do. 

This week I brought home that discouraged and worried feeling more than once. It's important to care deeply about our students, but it's also important to rest and focus on our families once we walk through the doors of your own homes. 

I was reminded of advice my dad gave me a long time ago. My dad always worked two or three jobs to support our family. He worked full time in a thread mill, he stripped and waxed floors at a grocery store, he was a custodian, and he cooked at a restaurant and at a nursing home. He's had many, many jobs and he worked hard at all of them. At times, he got discouraged. 

HERE COMES THE ADVICE! My father told me that he picked out a tree at the end of our road. Whenever he would drive by it on the way home, he would "throw" his troubles into that tree. He figured he could pick up work responsibilities the next day, but he intended to enjoy his home and his family. It must have worked. My dad never made me feel that I was a burden or that he resented working hard for our family.
Do you just love the bib overalls?

My Dad and Gabrielle were rocking the harmonica duet!  Wasn't she a cute little peanut?
 Here's a bit more advice about worry, this time from the book of Matthew. It's a passage I read over and over again!

Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble
-Matthew 6:27-34

Have a wonderful and worry-free week. Thanks for stopping by.  


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More Pictures of My Guinea Pigs and a SALE

First, if you were hoping to see pet guinea pigs I sincerely apologize. When I mentioned guinea pigs in my blog post title, I meant my children. 

My beloved personal guinea pigs/product testers, aka Seth and Gabrielle, have been testing out portions of my latest products.

As you can see, Seth gave my story problems a thumbs-up for interest level.


Every product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, including already-discounted bundles, will be 20% off tomorrow and Thursday, January 21st and 22nd.  Use code START16 to get an additional 10% off from the wonderful folks at TPT. 


Just in case you were extremely disappointed about the missing guinea pig photos...

 Photograph by Z is for Zebra.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Woven Bacon and Nonfiction Text Features

If you're thinking that woven bacon and nonfiction text features don't go together at all, you're absolutely correct! Those just happen to be the two topics I wanted to share with you today.

First, the bacon. 

My husband learned this trick from someone who knows a chef.  You take an entire package of bacon and weave it. Yes. You weave it.  I intended to share a photo of the precooked bacon, but uncooked bacon is NOT appetizing to look at. At all.

Next, you bake it on a large metal sheet pan. When it comes out, put it on paper towels to blot out the excess grease. When you cut the bacon up, it is in squares which is perfect  for breakfast sandwiches or BLTs. Great trick, right? 

I have no idea how long you cook the bacon, because I never cook bacon. My husband is the bacon weaver and baker in our house. 

We've been reading fiction and nonfiction about turtles during the past couple of weeks. We focused on Author's Purpose and did some review of nonfiction text features. 

Students used the index in the book One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies to help them find answers to questions. During the upcoming week, we'll be doing text features searches in a variety of books: our math text, a book about weather that we've been reading during science, and a book about Connecticut. To get some free turtle research materials and to read about turtle units from previous years, click here.

I've created a generic graphic organizer that could be used for any nonfiction text. Grab it by clicking here or on the image below.

For a set of free nonfiction text features posters, click to visit

Thanks for visiting!