Friday, October 11, 2013

Inference anyone?

Inferencing is one of those skills that kids REALLY struggle with.  You tell them to make an inference and they look at you like you have three heads, they restate the text, or make predictions about what is going to happen next.  Inferencing is one of those things that I  have to continuously do,  and refer back to on a regular basis. So last week we did the notebooking on inferencing
and the anchor chart-- along with a great read aloud , Emma's Turtle, by Eve Bunting.  This book was an excellent example of an animal making inferences!!

We discussed different emotions that people have  and clues that people give that show they might be feeling out these emotions.  They absolutely LOVED acting these out. The power point game and lots of other activities are found here.  Scroll down to the bottom of the link's page for a complete list of activities and resources.

We are beginning our Social Studies unit on Exploration and Christopher Columbus is a major explorer.  In the reading series we have, LBD, there is a read aloud about Christopher Columbus.  I read the text and we made inferences about his character based on what we had read and our own schema.  Needless to say, Christopher Columbus has a very positive persona.... for now.

That will change when I read Pedro's Journal and Encounter, though. (that will be a future blog)

The kids have really enjoyed making inferences about pictures they see-- I am helping out the science teacher as I reinforce quantitative observations and qualitative observations.  Then we discuss our own schema about what we know about the items, people or events in the picture, and lastly, the inference about what is happening in the picture and how the characters are feeling.  I have found some amazing picture prompts -- and they are even great for writing dialogue or short stories. As I pull for small groups this week, I am working with my really low students on their writing. The picture prompts have been a great spring board for writing dialogue and adding that dialogue to stories they are all ready writing about the pictures. I can hardly wait to see their finished products!  I only wish I had 30 more minutes for each of my classes for ELA time....

I realize this was a bit over due-- I have really been trying not to "rush" the reading skills and to make sure I make them pertinent to the social studies. While doing inferencing, I have found these other resources that are completely free-- and worth your time  to investigate-

Inference cards

Tons of Task Cards!

Inference: Setting Day or Night?  I loved doing this one in groups and let them discuss in their groups where each card should be be classified...

As I slide into character traits next week, (I love how inferencing is used for determining character traits of characters--)  I will hopefully be more timely about blogging.  (How do some of those hard core bloggers do it?  I seem to blog once a month, and I still can't get all my papers graded, keep my on-line grade book up to date or my house clean! I may need some advice....)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Constitution Day

Constitution Day is September 17th.   Here are a few activities and sites as you plan for this day.

We The People (Constitution Song)  
Schoolhouse Rock -- Preamble
Reader's Theater- Creating the Constitution

Constitution Day Mini Unit  This indicates it is for 1-3rd grade, but I like the tree map and think it could be used for older age groups-- especially if you are using the constitution as a primary document!

The US Constitution Mini book

Constitution Day Poster Contest

Last year's winner of the poster contest-- Amazing!

As I find more activities-- I will add them. :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Strategy for teaching Summarizing

Summarizing literature has always been a difficult concept for kids.  The problem is they usually want to write too much.  There are the few that totally miss the concept by naming a detail and leaving out the main elements needed to make a good summary.   I have been teaching the concept of Somebody.. wanted.. but ..then.. for awhile.  But--today it hit me.  We are constantly using our colored pencils for making notes on texts, our highlighters for main ideas and identifying context clues for vocabulary--  I decided that this would be no different.  I would assign each part a color. 


After reading the book Grumpy Gloria, We discussed that sometimes the narrator was a main character in the story.  We used the "formula" and wrote the summary.  After the summary was written, we highlighted each part-- (colored pencils) and labeled it.  

This worked like a charm!  I read the Book Alexander and the Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day-- and the kids helped me write a summary using the formula-- and we labeled it.  My plan is to read Tattle Tongue tomorrow-- and let the kids Write their own summary and label the parts.   Hopefully, as we continue to write summaries the rest of the year they won't forget important key components!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fluffy Trufias

The first day of school will be here before I know it, and my room is still a hot mess. I began unpacking my books and rearranged the classroom as much as I could, but I still have tons of boxes and tubs to unpack. 
Photo A  friend of mine had made a cute bulletin board  with tissue paper boarder and some fluffy tissue paper balls (they looked like DR. Seuss's Trufias!) purchased from Party City.  After looking at the balls, I realized I could make them easily. 

1) take about 10 pieces of tissue paper stacked on top of one another (any color)  and fold them like a fan- about 2 inches.  Use a thin ribbon or piece of yarn to tie around the middle and cut the ends into a point. 

Photo 2) Very carefully begin separating the tissue paper .  Be careful as it will rip easily. 

Photo More........

Photo  and the final product.....

Photo I love these!  I can do them multiple colors and I may even figure out a way for students to do them for a Dr. Seuss Bulletin Board or for Mother's Day flowers.... Oh the possibilities. For right now, they will be pretty accents in my room. Rule number one on the first day of school?  No jumping up and hitting my fluffy Trufias.

Friday, August 2, 2013


I am linking with Oh Boy Fourth Grade to do a "currently." As learn more about the world of blogging and trying to link, add photos and set my circles, I am constantly making mistakes.  Good thing I don't have a great big following group that will point out all my big errors.  So here it goes.  If this works, I will be able to post the pic and ad text to it.  So here it goes....


ummmm yeah, got the pic, but can't figure out how to add the text-- so
Currently I am:
Listening: to "Animaniacs" in the background as my daughter is ooooing and awing over a build-a-bear Magazine.
Loving: that my boys and Husband will be home tonight from a youth retreat in Panama City Florida.
Wanting: my classroom to be finished....magically.
Needing: a maid to clean my house-- because apparently the cleaning fairies are on vacation or on strike-- or maybe an inservice on how to do cool stuff on my blog....
Must haves: 1) a cart on wheels with drawers to hold supplies
                      2) My donors Choose project to be funded: "Kindling a fire for Reading"
                      3) a new area rug in my room

Well, off to hit the school sales and No TAX Weekend for my own kids and students!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

A friend of mine posted on facebook-- "Happy New Year to all my teacher friends."  As I thought about this-- she is right.  Although we aren't celebrating with horns, champagne, fireworks and the Times Square Ball coming down at midnight-- it is OUR New Year.  New students, new school supplies, some of us new grade levels or subjects-- and ha! New CCSS!  (Well, for some of us they are new.) It is the time of year to start fresh.  Try new ideas rearrange the furniture in a new way, and start the new school year with a fresh outlook.  I love the new year. So...

New things I am going to do this year--

  • teach just ELA/SS
  • Have students keep a data notebook
  • learn and teach the ELA CCSS
  • facilitate Student led conferences
  • Be more effective with my individual student conferencing- 

As I look at this short list I am already overwhelmed.  I have a suspicion that some of this will grow to be bigger than I'm if I am not careful.... What will be new for you?......

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And so it begins

Up early today.  Picked up my keys for school-- Floors have been waxed and all items are back in our rooms.  As I peered into my room I anticipated the worst case scenario. I never know where to start.  My first thought is-- Arrange the furniture.  But some of the furniture is underneath that big stack of boxes and tubs. 

As I moved furniture around and unpacked, I realized I have boxes from last year that were never touched.  I have a good mind to put them in the hallway for the custodian-- and not even peek to see what is inside.  Once my room is done-- I will post pics...

A Moment of randomness-- I am on the school Data Team this year and we are going to have our students keep Data Notebooks. As I look around, I have found a TON of resources.  My concern is that I bite off more than I can chew, and that I end up spending valuable time on data and organization during class with the kids and neglect instruction. I want the notebooks to be meaningful and effective for student and parent  responsibility.  I teach ELA/SS and I know I need to start off small, but these are areas that I think I am going to have them track:
  • Behavior 
  • reading fluency/running record
  • spelling
  • Books read
 In class we will track homework being turned in -- But I am wondering what else if anything should be added.  Goals will be established once we do a base running record and spelling pre-tests.  (I use Words Their Way) I wonder what I am missing.....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Feeling a Little Crafty Today

I went to Micheal's and found all kinds of great things.  First before you go, check the weekly ads.  They will sometimes have  40% or 60%  off a single item, 20% off the purchase and then make sure you have your teacher ID--and  Boo YOW!  an extra 15% off! (This even includes CLEARANCE!!)

We have to keep our classroom locked at all times-- and I am awful at keeping up with my keys!  I found a great owl lanyard at Educational Wonderland, and decided I would use it to help me keep up with my keys.  Well, while I was at Micheal's-- I found some fabulous sparkly embellishments, and I decided I would sparkle up the lanyard on one side.   I do love some sparkles!

In one of the clearance bins outside, there were spools of ribbon.
I have been tired of using sticky notes as bookmarks in the interactive notebooks, so I decided to get some ribbon, and we will hot glue ribbons in the back of the composition books so no one will loose their spot, and if I want to do a notebook check, I won't have to go on a scavenger hunt to find something.  (Yes, we do create a "Table of Contents", but for some reason I always have  a few students who don't follow directions, skip pages, don't keep up with their contents and I am hoping this will help. Maybe?)

My next  project I am working on is a homework club display. I saw the idea on pinterest, and decided that I would try it.  Per our district policy, homework is not to be graded in anyway.  So, I am looking for a way to reward those students who do complete their homework consistently. I think I am going to use student numbers rather than pictures due to the high turn over rate of students at our school. I love the idea of using pictures, but getting student photos in a timely manner when a new student comes in isn't feasible. I will post pics of the final product.

The last project that I am working on are my Data Notebooks. Every student will have a section. That is still a work in progress as I try to gather everything that I want to use for student assessment-- individual, and small group- but I did find a  site that has free running records and record forms.
this seems like it would be a great RTI source. 

Well, off to target to see what other "goodies" I can find to feed my "new school supplies addiction."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who DOESN'T like free?

Teachers spend so much of their own money on teaching supplies, it really isn't funny.  Every year  year at tax time when my husband asks me how much I spent, I tell him to use the max-- (I think it is $300) but the truth is-- I spend way more than that. What other profession does someone spend their OWN paycheck so htat they can do their job?  Granted, I am my own worst enemy When new school supplies are put out-- but the other stuff, chart paper, book baskets, labels, 3x5 cards, and other activity suplies- well, it adds up.  That is why I am on a mission.  We all know we are still going to spend money-- but if things are out there for free-- or there is a chance you can get it for free, Teachers need to know about it.
oh Boy 4th Grade is having a $100 giveaway.

Over the next week, I will be posting freebies that I find for Daily Five.  If you havent read the book, it is fantastic, and really helps you organize your ELA time so you have time for those important small groups.  A great place to start is my Daily 5 Wiki. It is still a work in progress-- but has some great freebies.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Time Planning

I love summer.  It is time to sleep, beach, and plan.  Yep. Plan.  I am such a nerd.  I spend my summer thinking, reading professional blogs, professional books (a couple of fun ones in there too,) pinning educational lessons on Pinterest, salivating at the teacher store, and  reexamining my long rangeplans  from the previous year and tweeking some things.

 Even with my toes in the sand, I have a notepad in my hand, and the book Teach like a Pirate  in the other and am looking at ways that I can "hook" my students first thing with my lessons-- ( reminds me of the old PET model of teaching) If you haven't read the book, the last section of the book gives ideas for different types of hooks to grab their attention. If you are familiar with multiple intelligences, the hooks run along the same lines-- just a few are:

  • Using music
  • using art
  • using magic
  • using a puzzle
  • a costume
  • using a short video clip
If you frequent pinterest, you may have seen a site that has movie clips to use.  The movie clips are a great resource.  They are short, and you can find a variety of familiar clips to use for TONS of lessons.

One use was for identifying character traits and using the video to cite reasons for that character trait.  For example, I used a clip from Wizard of Oz And played it for the students.  They watched the clip and recorded character traits for the characters in that clip. With CC I know that giving evidence is key, so as students watched the clip again, they recorded incidents in the clip that would prove their choice for the character trait.  (They begged to do more of these)

I absolutely love pinterest.  At some point I need to print off my boards and file them into my unit notebooks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I need an intervention....

As I walked into Walmart today I saw the supplies.  New crayons.  New markers.  Nice clean composition books.  Glue sticks.  A big multipack of them-- for ...$1.  I love school supplies.  I am addicted to them.  Never mind I still have a tub of dry erase markers at school that are perfectly  fine--(multiple colors)  Never mind that I have every color of the rainbow ink pen for grading papers-- and probably double green and purple. (my favorite colors to grade papers) Never mind that I have some black composition books left over from last year that weren't used. (I like the colored ones a little bit better...) When I get back from the beach-- it is on.  Unless my husband finds out.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Technology Bug has Bitten...

There is so much technology that can be integrated into our classrooms, and so much in our daily lives that I am not sure if I can keep up.  There is so much out there-- I am trying hard to keep up with the times, but frankly I am finding myself overwhelmed with it all.  I try to do something new every year-- something that I can continue the next year and tweek into perfection.  Something that will be a time saver for me and beneficial for my students, but I have found myself wanting to do it all.  I think I need to sit down and come up with a plan rather than jumping in and drowning in all this technology.

 I tried the webpage that will text parents when you want to send out an announcement, but I started it late n the year and only had one parent sign up.   I work at a Title 1 school, so student access to computers is minimal. Although I do have some parents whose children are on free and reduced lunch and they have a car and phone better than mine-- but that is a soapbox for another day.... I am wondering what new thing I should take on this year. Perhaps I will perfect the texting announcements.... I am working on a  Project , but it isn't completed yet-- I would like some Kindle Fires for my classroom for "Listening to Reading." And the QR codes--

My mind is racing at how I can implement these into reading.... I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Notebook

Yeah-- not the movie.  I mean that notebook that you keep all your student data in-- test scores, reading levels, and conferencing notes.  If you are like me you probably have more than one notebook.  Who wants to lug around a 3 inch binder with all that stuff in there?  As I search for the perfect form to record my notes, I find myself changing every year-- sometimes even mid year. last year-- I had blank boxes to keep notes.  Nope-- didn't work for me-- too much writing, and I spent WAY too long on the conferences. I was only getting to 5-6 kids a week-- not a good number when you have 23 to reach.  With common core in our midst, I keep wondering how I need to change my blank box.   And then I found the The Teacher's Corner.  I think I have found the answer to my student data notebook.   I am already going to use up half of my copy allotment for the 9 weeks before school starts, but I am excited that I will be keeping better records this year. :) 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Starring 4th Grade

One thing that I am always striving for is to be better.  To be the best that I can be.  (Sounds like a commercial for recruitment to the military.)  But I believe the way you perfect your teaching skills is to get rid of what isn't working, and try new things.

 I love to collaborate  with other teachers and learn from them.  Yes, I have been teaching for 21 years, and I have found many things that I love and will continue to use, and then there are still those areas that that I haven't quite perfected yet. I would love for you to visit me on facebook and as I continue on my adventure of teaching-- (because yes, that is what it is-- I tend to learn as much as my students some years) As I find resources to share for teachers-- especially as we embark on the common Core.  I welcome others to add their successes, suggestions, questions, and even "train wrecks."  After all, we are in this together. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ah Sweet Summer

I have so many ambitions every summer.  Books I want to read, units I want to revamp, andnow, Common core is staring at me straight in the face.  This year I will be teaching ELA and social studies to two clocks of students. It looks as though there will be about 21 or 22 students per class.  I know that isn't many, when you look at other teachers' classes across the nation who have 30 or more students. So I shouldn't complain. It is a little tough to swallow, though, when I had 16 or 17 students for a few years and wow.  What a difference.But I digress.

As I have piddled a little with the ELA common core standards, started on my long range plans, and tried to interpret what these standards are needing me to teach, I have gotten a little frustrated with the lack of resources that spell out exactly what the standards want.  There are some out there that are guessing and give minimal guidelines... but I guess what I want is something that spells out what the standards mean.

On top of all this I am trying to integrate my ELA and social studies completely. For example, In social studies,

Week one :
Fictional piece : Wooly and Fang (skills: summarizing, story elements)
Nonfiction piece: Cloning a wooly Mammoth (skills: Discussion, supporting an opinion)
Poetry:  Mammoths on the Move (skills: Rhyme scheme, repetition, onomatopeia, alliteration)
Writing:  Writing an opinion with supporting details (cloning)
Extension: Mammoths (researching)

I know that all these have some sort of cost, and over the years I have paid for a membership of different sites and when I make my copies of the resources, I have them for several years.  With the first week of school I talk about the continents, archeology and mammoths and it takes me right into the land bridge theory.

Doing my ELA strictly around my social studies units is going to be the only way to step up my game in the content area.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oh Summer, Where have you gone?

As  I begin to look at what I have left to do this summer, I realize it is almost gone-- and it is only July 3rd!  I have one week to clean my house and pack for the beach-- I have a week at the beach-- then I have one week to unpack from the beach and pack my boys off for their youth retreat to Panama City.  They will be gone a week-- (That week I think my daughter and I will just bask in the awesomeness of summer) then I really need to start getting into my classroom and getting it all together! How is that the last week of school can go by so slowly and a summer vacation be gone in a wink of the eye?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

So Slack!

Well here it is summer again and I look back at when I blogged last time and realize-- I am so slack! How do these amazing teachers keep up with school, planning, families and a blog during the school year?.  Maybe I just don't know how to organize my time.  Well, all I know, it is summer time and once again -- I blog. I use this time to rejuvenate, think, reflect and plan for the next year.  I love summer time!!!

So  this year I am changing from self contained to ELA and Social Studies.  This is fine as I am always trying to perfect my ELA strategies.  I implemented the Daily Five last year and loved it.  It was more of a Daily 3-- with an emphasis on Independent reading, Word study and Writing.  Also I read the book, The Book Whisperer .  There is a book study on this book on another blog at this time,  and it was fantastic.  I will be reading it again so that when school starts, I am implementing those Ideas.  I am getting ready to read Teach like a Pirate. I am excited about this book -- I usually start off the year really well, and then by February, I get grouchy. Perhaps this book will give me some strategies that I can use to keep up the energy through the end of May. :)

My big project this summer is to come up with a plan to teach the common core and fit it into my social studies units so that students will see connections.  I would also like to incorporate DBQ's this year (Document based Questions) becasue that seems to be an awesome way to incorporate Common core, Social studies and writing.  I am exciterd for what the new year will bring!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I have a week left of school and I am already planning for next year. What is wrong with this picture?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I am Back

Apparantly I was deleted for SPAM.  I don't sell anything.  I don't endorse any specific products, nor do I have the capability to invade anyone else's blog or email with SPAM. I don't even EAT SPAM.   So I am at a loss.  The only thing I can think of is I made someone mad with a comment I made about a certain website that sells teacher's products.  Or perhaps they didn't like me referring to a WiKi site I had created that listed free resources for teachers who were using Daily Five activities in their class.  Is that SPAM??  Who knows.  I am so glad the "blogger police"  can delete a WHOLE account for a few comments made when there are whole entire blogs dedicated to nudity, profanity and other filth that are allowed to remain on line.