Thursday, January 31, 2013

Small Moment Writing (mentor texts)

During writer's workshop last week, I started to share small moment stories with my class. Writing small moment stories is one of my favorite things to do for writer's workshop. 

We've done three mini lessons to build up to our small moment stories so far. During those mini lessons I shared 3 of my favorite mentor texts for teaching small moment stories. 

The first one, which is my favorite, is called Salt Hands by Jane Chelsea Aragon. Unfortunately, it is out of print. But, if you watch amazon or ebay, you can often get a used copy for around $30. Believe me, it is worth it! It is the kind of story that makes the kids beg to hear it over and over. This year, my students clapped all three times that I read it to them.

Another great story for modeling small moment writing is Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.  I use this story for word choice and wrap up sentence (closing) mini lessons at different times throughout the year.  It's also a good story to show how an author builds suspense through writing.  But, I'm stashin' that mini lesson thought away in case I ever get transferred to another grade.  

Fireflies by Judy Brinckloe is another great book to include when teaching mini lessons for small moment stories.  I use it to demonstrate the idea of "zooming in" on a small moment in life.  

I'll be sharing other mentor texts that I use for reader's and writer's workshop in my classroom over the next few weeks.  Last year, I hosted a writer's workshop mentor text linky party.  You can find the old linky party here.  When the linky party was finished, I compiled a list of all the books different bloggers shared.  You can find the post with the list here. I'm planning to do that again to add to the list.  So, watch for the linky party to start sometime next week.  I'd love it if you would link up with your favorite mentor texts!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter Math Journals and Common Core Morning Work

Happy Saturday! is so nice to be blogging in a quiet house, while sitting in my new chair with a fluffy dog at my feet. 

We have a new math program at my school this year. As far as the new (which is really an old program pulled off the shelf) goes, I have nothing nice to I won't say anything at all (in writing). My students do love math time though. Here are some of the things they love (which are not part of our "program", but help kids be successful in terms of the common core standards).

Math Journals

We work in our math journals a few times each week.  The children solve problems in their math journals and are encouraged to show their mathematical thinking in a variety of ways.  We do partner sharing and whole class sharing each time we work in our journals.  This is not the best picture, but as you can see the pages are "bursting" with mathematical thoughts. 

The prompts we are using at this time of the year are from my Winter Math Journal Prompts set.  You can find them at my Tpt store or in my Teachers Notebook shop.  I have a fall and spring set as well.

Monster Math (morning work/daily review)

Right now, we are using pages from my Monster Math Common Core Review pack as morning work, daily review or just warm up at the beginning of math our math time.  The skills we are focusing on come directly from the common core standards (addition, subtraction, telling time, comparing numbers and place value).  You can peek at it in my Tpt store by clicking on the image below.  It is also in my Teachers Notebook shop.  My kids love the cute little monsters on each page.  

Next on the agenda...

planning for adjectives, small moment stories and compound words at school
laundry, sledding and more relaxing at home

Enjoy your day!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Put 'Em in the Blender ! (consonant blends)

We're having an unusual week at my school... 

Monday - no school 
Tuesday - MLK assembly
Wednesday 1/2 day for students + professional development for us 
Thursday 1/2 day for students + professional development for us 
Friday - pajama day + another assembly 

 Add all of that to the fact that we have had indoor recess (because of the wind chill being below 0) all week. Oy...

 It's kind of a miracle that we've been able to accomplish anything...but we have been working on consonant blends quite a bit this week. We work on them throughout the year, but I decided to make it more of a focus now that my writers are ready to start demonstrating their knowledge of consonant blends in their writing. 

Here is an anchor chart that we made last week.

 My students made consonant blenders today. They loved making their own blender!


I also asked my students to write the definition of a consonant blend (in their own words) and to make a list of examples of consonant blends. They are on display in our "gallery".

Here is the page they used to write their definition and some examples of words with consonant blends.  You can click on the image if you'd like to download it.

 We worked on making a consonant blend book. Each student will take home their own book once they are finished. Here is a sample of one of the covers. 

You can click on the image below if you'd like to check out the blend book in my Tpt store or my Teachers Notebook shop

I better go get my pj's ready for school tomorrow!   


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Consonant Blends Book

Brrrrrr!  This is how my day started.

I love winter...but this is a bit much.  The temp in my Jeep was actually reading -4 for a bit on the way to school, but it warmed up to -3 by the time I could park to take a picture.  With the wind chill, they said it was -20.  We still had school.  :)  We did have indoor recess, which is rare.

We've been working on consonant blends throughout the year. I finally finished the consonant blend book that I've been wanting to make for my students. The plan is for each student to have their own Book of Blends to add consonant blends to throughout the year. You can find it at my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop. Just click on the image below if you'd like to check it out.

In my room, I use a set of adorable consonant blend charts made by Kristen and Ladybug Teacher Files.  You can find them by visiting Kristen here.  Kristen is amazing and so is her blog!

I also recently purchased this great nonfiction set from Scholastic.  It is called Animal Phonics Readers and each book contains words with a different consonant blend.  The books were not leveled by Scholastic yet, but my guess is that they are about a Fountas/Pinnell level E.  The text is not difficult, but the books contain vocabulary that may be unfamiliar for early readers.  I think I'm going to buy an extra set so I can keep one in my leveled reading bins and another set for working on blends during my guided reading groups.

Today... I will try to RELAX for at least 10 minutes (it's my OLW for 2013).  Hope ya'll are staying warm!  Corrina (my Hawaiian friend) - perhaps you have a spare room? :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

We Have Dreams (MLK activities)

I had big plans to watch all the inauguration festivities with my own kids today, right after a quick trip to the grocery store. My plans changed when an old lady smashed into the back of my Jeep on the way home from the store. I'm hoping someday that I'll find some of the very strange things she said amusing. Today...not so much. The good news - I'm ok and my kids were not with me.

 In the middle of a snowy 4 lane road with parts of my vehicle spread all over 2 lanes, here are a few of the strange things she said to me after doing over $10,000 worth of damage to my Jeep.
 1. Can I just tell you all the reasons that I am so sorry? (my response = no)
2. I prefer the S... police department. (My response = Well then smash into someone in that city. This is P...... township.)
 3. What were you planning to do today? (my response = not this!)
4. What are you doing? (my response = wiping snow off your license plate so I can take a picture of it)

So...I will watch the inauguration stuff that I missed online and I will be glad to get back to school tomorrow.

 We will be having a special assembly at my school tomorrow to celebrate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My class started our study of MLK last week, to prepare for our special writing/speaking project later this week. By the end of the week, my students will be giving their own "I have a dream..." speeches about making the world a better place. I posted about the activities that we do in a post last year. You can read that post complete with pictures here. My students are very excited to give their speeches!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Doubles Addition Rap & Games

I am happy to report that Friday was much better than Thursday. My kids worked super hard and we had lots of fun.  I'm a firm believer that teaching and learning should be fun. I get grouchy when something ruins the fun.

Yesterday, I had one of my surprise "here comes the boss with the iPad" observations.  I think that went well.  I'm working super hard.  My kids are learning and I have data to prove it.  I am honestly doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  We'll see what the boss has to say when I get the "formal written report" next week.  Not gonna stress about it.  My boss was recently named "Michigan Elementary Principal of the Year" for our region.  We're lucky in the boss department.

We worked on doubles addition facts this week.  According to my pre-assessment, my students knew 0 + 0 through 5 + 5 fluently.  They really needed practice when it comes to the doubles facts for 6  through 9.

I taught them the Doubles Rap.  I have no idea who the original source of the rap is...and I changed to the words (at the bottom) a bit.  Here is version we use in my classroom.  We rap the bottom part first and then rap our way through the facts.

My students also played Doghouse Doubles (which is a game that I made to help them practice doubles addition facts).  You can find it at my Tpt store and in my Teachers Notebook shop.

We also played Slides and Ladders Adding Doubles game by Kathy Law (one of my favorite bloggers).  My students loved this version of one of their favorite board games!  You can visit Kathy at First Grade a la Carte.

OLW update...My OLW this year is relax. I started my day today with a 2 mile run (which was relaxing because we are having freakishly warm temperatures for January in Michigan - it was 44 degrees for my run). Then I chose 5 students and sent their parents "happy mail" (a nice email to their parents about how they are doing).  I'm going to limit myself to 1 hour of school work today and them I'm going to take a relaxing walk with my kids to the library.  When I get home, I am going to sit in my new chair and read something fun.  I will not eat the chocolate brownies that my husband received from one of his favorite students.

Happy Saturday!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bring on Tomorrow

Let's talk about today...or maybe not...because the things I really want to tell you about today would be just the kind of things that I'm probably not "supposed to" write. was not a good day at school. I wish I could be more specific or at least show you a picture. I'm sure tomorrow will be better, right?

 And...I don't know about all of you, but this starting the new year off healthy thing is starting to make me bonkers too. Eating a teeny amount of calories, having extra servings of veggies and all this exercising is beginning to interfere with my plan to relax (which is my OLW). After a day like today, shouldn't a girl be able to enjoy some chocolate and her favorite drink? Nope. Not when you are trying to be honest with the things you report to your "Fitness Pal". Blah, blah, blah.

 To make myself feel better, I decided to read some of my favorite blogs (that helped a lot), spend an hour pinning (that helped too) and do some research about buying a Silhouette. To tell you the truth, I've been trying to avoid buying one (just because I am so busy that I'm not even sure I'd have time to use it). I just don't think I can stand it anymore. Is it as dreamy as everyone claims it is?

Cameo? or Portrait? Any opinions? I'd love to hear what you think if you have one.

Crossing my fingers for tomorrow... Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Tablet for the Teacher

The good folks at Teachers Notebook are supporting teachers again. This time it's with an exciting giveaway! It's called A Tablet for the Teacher Sweepstakes. 

 You can enter one time each day from now until January 31. Head over to check it out!  
  Thank you, Teachers Notebook, for supporting teachers!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Pinteresting Day

For a whole 5 days, I've been working on my OLW (one little word). My OLW for 2013 is relax. Making crafts is relaxing to me. Plus I promised myself that I would use up some of my craft supplies before I buy any more this year. 

 Here's what I've been working on... 

 A 2013 Memory Jar 
 (which is nothing more than a jar with our Christmas card in at the moment)

Throughout the year, we will add little things that help us remember 
all the special things we did together as a family this year.  
Then we'll start a new jar next year.
This is my photo, but not my original idea. I found this great idea here.

Button Bracelet
(made from buttons and leather cord)
Again, this is my photo, but not my original idea.  I found the idea here.  

Beaded Butter Knife
I usually make beaded serving spoons, 
but I had just enough wire left to fancy up this little butter knife.
I was inspired by my aunt to make these.

Framed Vintage Valentine
I found this vintage Valentine (and a few others) at an antique sale last year. 
 I wasn't sure what to do with them at the time.  
I just decided to frame one. 
I'm thinkin' my collection of vintage Valentine's might look nice 
on my Valentine themed mantel with this pitcher that I found 
at a local reuse center for $1.   
I'm working on a Valentine bunting as well.   

Scrabble Tile Pendants

Two years ago, one of my students gave me a Scrabble tile pendant necklace.  
I love it!
I found a good tutorial on Pinterest for how to make them myself and bam! 
You can find the tutorial here.
The picture is my own.  It shows two of the pendants that I made.  
I use the same chain and just switch the pendant.  
But, I did buy a few more chains on Ebay, 
so I can make more necklaces for gifts for next Christmas.

Hope you have a relaxing day too!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday Gifts (A Little Late...)

I know, the holidays are over... I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but just never got around to pushing "publish".

 I have 6 wonderful moms who volunteer in my classroom each week. I am so grateful for their help each week. I work in a district where I could probably have 26 (or more) wonderful parent volunteers each week. Lucky - I know. Having to "limit" the number of volunteers is a problem that every teacher probably would like to have. 

I gave each of my volunteers a small gift this year. It's really not much considering how much support they provide for my students...but they seemed to like it. I found the idea here on Pinterest.  If you visit the original link, you can download the tags. The photo below is my own display of hope soap.

The gift that my students made for their parents is also an idea from Pinterest.   They made tree ornaments out of 3 cardstock triangles, a little bakers twine and a jingle bell.  My students were really proud of the way they turned out.  You can find the original source here.  The girls over at Eighteen 25 used the same cardstock for the whole ornament.  In the spirit of being flexible (not exactly an easy thing to do), I let my kids choose any 3 triangles they wanted.

Today, I'm crafting at home.  It's part of my plan to practice my OLW - relax. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Doghouse Doubles Addition Game

I've been busy focusing on my new OLW (relax) in the past few days. So, in the spirit of relaxing...I read 3 good books, got a pedicure, read about 100 of the Currently posts on Farley's January Currently linky party and did lots of snuggling with my own kids. I'm so grateful for this time to do all of those things for myself (and my family). 

Before I started practicing this relaxing business...I added a doubles addition game to my Tpt store. I use this game to help my students practice doubles addition facts. It's a dog themed game, so you can use it anytime of the year. I'm going to add it to my Teachers Notebook shop tonight before I go to bed.  You can click on the image below if you'd like to check it out.

Off to make hot chocolate for my kiddos and snuggle my doodles (dogs)!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Oh, Happy Year! (Currently)

Oh, happy day year!  Farley's Currently is a great way to start out the New Year!

I've actually been taking a break from blogging for a couple weeks.  Not on purpose.  Just had to take care of a few things (like the whole family having the stomach flu, a root canal, some stress and Christmas festivities).  All that is past and I'm happy to report that we did have a great Christmas with family and friends (and lots of germs). 

Back in action...and currently...

Listening... This is the first year that we've lived in a 2 story house with our kids.  Little things, like hearing the pitter patter of little feet upstairs, make me really happy in our new home.

Loving...I am so grateful for this two week break to snuggle, read and take long walks with my family.

Thinking...I will turn 40 this year.  Turning 40 doesn't really bother me. But since everyone else keeps making a big deal about it, I decided that that age marker might help motivate me to lose some weight before I hit 40 (in November).  When you are 4 feet 11 inches, it's already hard enough to buy clothes.  Enough is a new beginning!

Wanting...Tomorrow, while I eat only healthy foods that will surely leave me craving all the things I ate yesterday...I will get a pedicure.  I'm sure putting pretty toes in my workout shoes will help.

Needing...When I agreed to do a presentation for the Michigan Reading Conference in March, I promised my husband that I would not let preparing for the presentation be a source of stress.  So, getting organized and prepared early should help me hide any stress that might appear closer to the date. 

OLW -   relax
It seems ironic that I would choose "relax" as my OLW...when it is the very word that can cause an instant argument if it comes out of my husbands mouth. :)  But, I it is a word that
I need to be more connected to.  I'd like for us to be friends (me and my new word) by the end of the year. 

Why would I choose a word that I don't really like (yet). Several weeks ago, while driving to work, I had a aha moment.  It was the moment when I realized that life would be much less stressful if I didn't have a goal for EVERYTHING.  Having a goal for everything might not be so bad if I was not such a Competitive Carly.

There are the obvious goals that we all have (I think) about school and family.  And then there are a few others that I recently discovered might not be shared by everyone.  

Yep...a goal for how many times a day I'm going to brush my teeth (which the dentist claims is too many - what?!?).  A goal for how many students I will work with individually during math work stations.  A goal for how many new words each of my struggling students will learn by the end of the week. A goal for how many times I'll walk the dogs in a week.  A goal for how many loads of laundry I will get done in one evening.  A goal for how many minutes I will allow myself to watch TV.  A goal for which day I will go to the grocery store.  A goal for how many rows I will knit when I sit down to "destress".  I sadly even have a goal for how much sleep I want to get each night...which might not be a problem if I didn't keep waking up every hour to count how many hours of sleep are left.  The list goes on...

So... this year.  I will focus on relaxing.  Not the "calm down" kind of relaxing that my husband sometimes suggests.  But, the brushing your teeth 3 times (instead of a higher number) is really ok kind.  And...watching TV without a goal of when to turn it off might be nice (if I could just figure out how to use the remote). 

Yep...a few more pedicures, a nice long bath, maybe some yoga (as soon as I figure out how to erase the to do list in my head) and dog walks without a minute goal (or mileage goal) in mind.  

I'm counting on all of you to be my support group.  I can't be the only freak, right?  Any tips to help me become "friends" with my new word would be much appreciated...

Relaxing plan for today - read (without a goal for how many chapters) and take my daughter shopping (hooray for girls day!)!

Don't forget to stop by Oh Boy 4th Grade to read about what everyone is currently doing to start the New Year!

Happy 2013, everyone!!