Monday, December 31, 2012

It's here! January Currently

Whoop Whoop, The January Currently is up and alive.  I've only been a part of this little bloggy tradition for about 3 months but I already look forward to it at the beginning of each month!  Be sure to head over to Farley's Blog & Link up!

Listening...I can't lie.. NYE is not my favorite holiday.  I am NOT a night person by any means.  I love my sleep!  But I figure I should at least somewhat join in the festivities and watching the Rockin' Bash is good enough for me.  One of these years, I swear I will be a part of the big party in NYC.  I have to cross that one off my bucket list, but not this year.  Justin & I probably would be celebrating with a few coworkers if it wasn't for this terrible cold/sore throat we both have!

Loving... Teaching at a year round school!  It means I get the rest of the week off while most people have to go back on Wednesday or Thursday.  I don't think I could ever go back to a traditional schedule.

Thinking... I'd like to do less "wingin' it" this quarter and be pretty planned out at least for the first half of the quarter.  I know if I plan too far ahead I'll regret it because something with get thrown off, it always does.  

Wanting... Ice cream to soothe this terrible sore throat.  I bought some yesterday but no joke, it was gone 4 hours later- and I didn't even get one tiny itty bitty lick *Insert sad face*

Needing... to be seriously serious about getting back to working out.  It's so hard with the little time I have.  I'm so exhausted when I get home, plus I've got extra work to do...  This is why planning ahead will *hopefully* help!!

OLW... when I saw what this was, I was stumped for about 5 seconds.  Then it just came to me.  My word is confidence.  I need be confident in myself as a teacher, fiancee, daughter, sister, cousin, neice, coworker, friend etc.  Believe that I am doing the best I can and not get down on myself when I can't do something.  Remind myself I'm not superwoman and that I can't do it all, but if I give what I can and do my best, that is all I can do, and that is OK!!

So there's my currently :)  Can't wait to head on over to your blog and read about yours!


Conferring with your Kiddos

One-on-one meetings are the ultimate confidence builders for students.  They’re especially effective as follow-ups to (instruction), when students practice a strategy.  Your undivided attention to each child makes them feel that you care about their learning and will try to help them understand and improve (Robb 1998, 7-8).

What do you think about conferences with your students?   Personally, I love them!  Just like the quote above, they build student's confidence, and give me information to help them. These conferences are great to give you quick information about a wide range of different information! 

When you think of "Individual Conferences" I bet your mind veers straight to Reading.  Was I right?  Well, what about Math? Just a quick "How did you solve this problem?" is a conference that gives you valuable information.  Does your student get it?  How are they thinking about the problem?  Can they explain it?  Will their thinking cause any problems down the road?  Are they confident?  How can you help them?  Etc..etc...etc...

To link conferences with the Common Core, My fiancee, Justin, made these awesome conferring forms that I seriously LOVE! 

The Reading Conference form considers text complexity, which is one of the 6 major shifts in the Common Core.  Is this the right book for your student?  Is it not complex enough?  Too complex?  Just Right?  Not sure exactly what to consider when determining whether the text is complex or not?  There is an added "rubric" I'll call it.. to help you determine whether the book is right for your student.

The Math Conference form takes the 8 Common Core Mathematical Practices into consideration.  The Math Practices are listed at at the top so you can check off which practice(s) the student is working on.. as well as your observations, your coaching, and action/goals for next time.  I know that you will just love these forms and you will get great use out of them..  You can purchase them by clicking on one of the pictures below... :)  Happy Conferring!!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year, New Resolutions

Whoa.. Did I really just take a 2 week hiatus from basically EVERYTHING? Ok, so maybe not everything... When do teachers stop working? I have been working pretty much non-stop since July of last year (Yes, I mean 2011) and I have to say, this break came at the perfect time. I feel my brain is rested, my body is relaxed, and I am almost ready to get back into the classroom!

I cannot believe that there are really only 2 days left until 2013.  I don't even know where this past year went.  

Well, we all know that with each new year, comes new (old) resolutions, shall we call them re-resolutions?  

You know, those resolutions that you made last year that didn't really seem to work out? OK, if you don't have this problem pa-leez give me your secret!  

This year, I am lucky to be able to set a NEW resolution since I've never been a blogger before during the New Year! Yippee.  I decided to link up with 2 bloggers to get my resolutions out there, I figure the more people that see it, the more I'll want to stick with it..

Here are the ladies I'm linking up with
Jen over at The Teachers Cauldron...
And Amanda over at Teaching Maddeness


Run, Run, Run! Or maybe I should just generalize and say "work out."  No time, no Energy.. all factors here (What else is new, right?) My Dad and I were planning to run a half marathon together in March and then again in January 2014.  Unfortunately, the week of Thanksgiving he was directing traffic at a parade (he is a police officer) and was hit by a car causing a broken leg.  He had to have surgery to get a metal rod placed from his knee to his ankle and is out of work for 4 months..which means no half marathon for him.  Without the motivation of letting him down if I couldn't run it with him.. it's going to be pretty difficult!  The only person I would let down is me.  BUT I figure...then I'll have one 13.2 under my belt when we run the Disney half and I just might be able to keep up with him..  


Ok, before I make this resolution, I do have to give myself a little bit of credit.  First year teacher in a new state, on multiple school-based and county based committees, new blogger...I've taken on quite a bit- and have done an alright job.  If anything, I've put the most energy into my classroom and my kiddos which is exactly where my energy should go..which is also the reason I haven't had much energy for anything else.  

With that being said, my blogging resolution is to try my best to post 2 times a week.  Even if just posting something fun or effective we did.  See, I've been trying to create things that go along with my ideas/things we do in my room for freebies/tpt and wasn't posting without it, but I decided I just need to stop that.  Ideas and pictures are just as good and I can't stress over not having something to go along with it... I think am confident I should will be able to stick to this!

Hope you decide to go over and link up with one or both of these ladies!  Maybe, just maybe we could help you stick to your resolutions!

Oh yea and before I go... Justin and I are throwing a sale on TPT through January 1st to celebrate the year.  Head on over to our store and snag 20% off all of our items!  Cheers to a new year!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Last week wiggles...

Anybody else getting the "It's almost break wiggles?"  My kiddos sure are! (Oh yea- and me too!)  It never fails... the last 2 weeks before intersessions, everyone is getting tired, restless, and ready for break.  Makes it hard to get in quality I've had to get pretty creative to keep their attention **Plus like half of mine can't sit still for the life of them to begin with, I mean, I guess I shouldn't really expect them to, they're second graders, right?**  

We just finished working on time which is seriously one of the HARDEST things for students to learn.  I'll admit, their sense of time is still not the greatest, but they're getting there.  I'm trying to get them to get a better sense of time by asking them to do things like:

*At 12:00 I'll ask them to start clicking their tongue when we have 5 minutes left until lunch- so I would hear some tongue clicking around 12:20.. *Or just randomly throughout the day, I'll give them a specific time or amount of time and ask them to do some kind of movement/sound like snapping fingers, whistling, jumping in place.  

I think my little creative way of sneaking in some time is beginning to work, but I guess we will see!  My hope is that it helps give them a better sense of what 5 minutes feels like, vs 25, vs an hour etc. :) 

Since we've only got one week left before intersession and I'd really love to practice time, I thought about trying this great idea I got from Techie Teacher Time!  How flipping awesome is this...

I don't know about anyone else who teaches time, but my kids keeping getting their hands mixed up.  Drives me CRAZY!!  But..... if they get to BE the clock, maybe it will help them remember.  My only thought about this is that I have kids who will be so so so impatient and probably spinning around on the floor, so maybe I'd add a dry erase clock into the mix and have each student around the outside represent the time on their clocks.. then they get a sense of what it looks like on an actual clock.  Wohoo! I'm super duper excited about this and I'll let y'all know how it goes.  The best part is after we use it as a whole class- it can turn into one of our Math Workshop Stations. Double Yes!

Only 16 days until Christmas.  Can you believe it?  It seems like 2012 flew by like it was nobody's business.  Living in NC, it's a bit harder to get into the Christmas spirit when its 75 degrees outside and you are used to it being 30.  My house all decked out helps me though :)  I love to sit in here, turn on my fake fireplace, drink some hot cocoa, and just relax! I love this time of year!  I'll even get to have the snow for Christmas because I'm heading back up to NY to be with family and keep my dad company.  He's stuck at home for the next 4 months with a pole and screws in his knee and ankle after getting hit by a car while conducting traffic after a Christmas parade (he's a police office).  He is totally not used to just sitting around so it's been pretty hard on him, but at least he'll have some company for a little while :).

Before I sign off, wanted to make sure you head of to Tips for Top Teachers to enter their giveaway for lots of goodies, including a NOOK COLOR HD! Don't miss out.  No chance if you don't enter!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Currently & Book Talks! :)

Linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for her December currently!  So here goes...

This past weekend, there was a terrible tragedy in my home community.  Four high school students were on their way back home from a basketball game, minding their own business, when a careless drunk driver quickly switched lanes and rear ended the students car.  The car rolled, and finally came to a stop, but not before 2 of the students, a highschool football star, and softball pitcher were killed.  The 2 other passengers (The girlfriend and boyfriend of the 2 who were killed) were taken to the hospital and are doing well considering.  I'm asking that you please keep the families and friends of these kids in your thoughts and prayers over the next couple weeks as they deal with terrible heartbreak and confusion at what has happened and how their lives are forever changed.  Sometimes God takes people for a reason we will never know, but Chris & Deanna must have been more needed beyond the gate of Heaven than here on Earth.  It just pray the family can cherish all the good times they had with their loved ones and I thank God for every breathe I take.
*************************************************************************************** that I got that out...onto a not so sad note.  Have you tried Book Talks in your room?  The Common Core calls for a bigger emphasis on Speaking and Listening skills and Book Talks are the PERFECT way to do it.  Here's how we do it in my class.. This is not my idea but I got this FAB idea from one of my awesome teammates and I just loved it.  

 After we have had a lot of discussion about the elements of a story, talked about predictions, questioning while reading, and author's purpose...we start our book talks!

Students are given a partner that I strategically place them with (Whaaaat? I never do that...) Partners each read the same book and write down their thoughts as they are reading.  THEN, the fun begins!  We talk all about being an active listener and responding to what your partners is saying, how to politely disagree and get your point across, and how to ask your partner questions based on what you thought or what they've just said. We also talk about making eye contact, etc.  It takes a while to get them into the routine of having a conversation about their book, rather than just reading off of their sheet but after some modeling and a few practice rounds, they've gotten pretty good at it.

WAIT, that's not it!! After some practice, we begin TAPING our booktalks!  Yes, taping.  Why you ask?  Well- this way, we can watch the book talk in action, give compliments on what students are doing well, and give suggestions for what they should work on.  It gives the students a GREAT way to reflect on how they are doing.  And they practice their speaking and listening skills.  Awesome right?  Obviously, this doesn't happen overnight.  It takes a lot of prompting, practicing, and learning- but once they've got it down, you can be confident that your students can have a meaningful book talk with someone, which also probably means they'll be a bit better at normal everyday conversation.. MAYBE? :)

Anyway- Click here to get these organizers to use in your room.  If you decide to use this, or a variation.. let me know how it works out!  I'm always looking for ways to make things better!  Only 7.5 days until break..Phew!

Don't forget to link up with Farley!!

Later Y'all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Weather & a Freebie! :)

For our last few weeks of school before intersession, my kiddos and I are diving into the world of weather!  We've talked about seasons and how weather changes, including animals hibernating.. Today, we did an experiment on the water cycle and the kids LOVED it! (Actually they pretty much came up with it even though I already planned it haha- I asked them how we could observe the water cycle with the materials we had) So I thought I would share in case people haven't used this experiment before.  

Basically you need the following: 2 Glass Jars, A Plastic baggie, some ice, a rubber band, and hot water-I brought in a crock pot and started heating the water about an hour before.  You might need to heat it longer depending in how much water you are using. Ok, so here's what we did:

*We put hot water in both jars (About halfway full)
*One jar we left completely open
*The other jar, we covered with a plastic baggie filled with some ice- I used the rubber band to hold it in place but if the opening on your jar isn't too big, the bag will probably stay on without the rubber band
*Then we waited... 

They noticed the steam coming out of the uncovered jar, and we identified that as water vapor.  Then I asked what was happening with the water in the covered jar.. why didn't we see the steam? They saw the water condensing towards the top of the jar - which we concluded would be the clouds up in the air ... Then, after about 5-7 minutes, it started to rain (Just a drop or two at a time- but it worked!) They concluded that the raindrops were falling because they were now too heavy to hang onto the bag, so they fell back into the water.   I had them head back to their seats and draw what they noticed in their science journal.  Then, I gave them this cute little sheet I made of the water cycle (Below)  I had them cut out the descriptions and glue them to the correct spot, color the scene, and then we reviewed the water cycle.  Viola!! Experiment and Lesson on the water cycle.  Fun, Engaging, and they really learned!

So, I know many of you have used this experiment before..but maybe some of you haven't. And if you have, here's the water cycle sheet they did for Free!

Hope you guys can use it!  What do you do for your weather unit?  I need some more ideas :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holidays Around the World

Alright my peeps (All like-17 of you.. YEAH!!)  I'm looking for some help from you talented, experienced, amazing teachers!  I have 3 weeks left before winter intersession.. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?? The last week and a half, I want to take my kids on a "trip" around the world to explore and learn about all the holidays celebrated during this time.  Since this is my first year teaching, I was hoping you could help me..

I was looking for any ideas about activities to do, holidays to include, and books to use during Reading Workshop to help my kids get a really good understanding that Christmas isn't the only holiday celebrate during this time and not everyone celebrates, and of course, have a blast while doing it.  I've been looking on TPT and Pinterest but there are just SO many ideas it's hard to narrow them down. If you have any great ideas- please share!!! I'll share with you all of our fun when we go on intersession and I have some time to post pictures! :) Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving full of Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Family, Friends, and maybe a little wobbling...

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their break!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curriculum Mapping & Project Based Learning...

Did anybody say "Ugh" just reading that title?  I said it writing it, so I totally understand if you did.  Boy do I really dislike Curriculum Mapping days.  I feel like I come out of them more frustrated, bogged down, and just plain ole grumpy!  This picture pretty much described me after a day of mapping...

Our ELA team meets about 5 times this school year for a whole day of mapping/creating Common Formative Assessments.  I feel like with so many people on a team for one grade, it's impossible to get much done.  Too many opinions and ideas that it's impossible to agree on one!  How do you guys handle curriculum mapping?  I would rather just be given something to work on, get ideas from others/talk to others and then put it together on my own.  I never seem to get anything done during these meetings.

The one thing that made me laugh was finding out that my substitute today looked like "Scary Santa." Maybe like this   ----------------------------------------------------------------->>>  You think that would've scared some of my kids but apparently, 2 of them had quite a difficult day (Argh!) and were escorted down the room to another teachers room.  I couldn't resist when I was told and just had to say it... cause I knew EVERYONE was thinkin' it.... "He should've just told them he's putting them on the naughty list.." Although I think my kids would say they are not naughty , just "misunderstood" like Santas list here... :) 

This isn't going to be a long post- My last two were RIDICULOUSLY long with like ZERO pictures, and not much fun stuff, I know.. It was hard trying to catch up.  But before I sign off, I was thinking about putting some Project Learning Units together and was wondering if anybody would be interested in them.  Since I teach second, they would  be less open ended and more structured, but I tried a Project-based(ish) apporach with my kids when we were learning about U.S. Symbols and they LOVED it!  And it aligns with CC speaking and listening standards too!  Great way to incorporate that into your day!  I was thinking I could put together my U.S. Symbols one, a weather one, and I was thinking about even possibly doing one for Non-Fiction text features in reading (thought it would be a fun way for the kids to kind of take a break from the typical mini-lesson/reading/closure Reader's Workshop and get them collaborating to teach us the mini-lessons)  What do y'all think?  I appreciate your comments & All of you!

Oh and I'm very thankful for Field trips when not feeling well.. especially when it's a play you get to sit through and watch!  Yay :)

I hope everyone had a very fabulous Thanksgiving filled with lots of Turkey, Family, and Pumpkin Pie!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Non-Fiction Fun and a few Freebies!

Thanks to this handy dandy book....

...I have had a lot of success launching my non-fiction unit this year.  I love Debbie's ideas.. especially the conventions notebook & wonderbox (which my kids have also enjoyed!)

We just started last week on Monday.  This is how our week went last week with our Reader's Statements...

Monday- Reader's know that non-fiction texts are different than fiction texts
Tuesday- Reader's make predictions about what they will learn in non-fiction texts
Wednesday- Reader's know they don't have to read a non-fiction text from front to back.
Thursday- Reader's can compare and contrast fiction & non-fiction texts.
Friday- Reader's can notice and remember new learning from a non-fiction text. (Incorporating Schema, and connecting new learning with what we already knew).

For comparing and contrasting Fiction with Non-Fiction, I asked students to come to the carpet with a fiction book and a non-fiction book.  Then, I actually gave each student a Venn diagram.  We talked about what we use Venn diagrams for and how we would fill this one out.  Then, I asked students to work with their reading budding to search their books to find similarities and differences in both texts.  
Click the picture to get a copy of the venn diagram for students to fill out.
They did a really great job on this!  Probably a little bit due to the fact that I strategically assigned their partners.. Whaaat? Teachers never do that.. do they?

So the thing that they were MOST excited about is our Wonderbox!  We've only done it once, but even on FRIDAY AFTERNOON (Yes, Friday afternoon) when we had only about 3 minutes left before the dismissal bell rings, my kiddos are asking, "Ms. G, do we have enough time to figure out a wonderbox question?" I felt awful saying no :(.  Ok, so our Wonderbox (Thanks to Debbie Milller) is just a box in our classroom where students write questions about things they are wondering.  Here is the handy dandy little slip they fill out...

When they have something they are wondering, they write down the questions and drop it in our Wonderbox.  Then, 2-3 times per week, we pull one question out of the box and see if we can find the answer.  This has taught them to think about.. "Hmm, where will we find the answer to this question?? Oh probably in the weather books in the weather bin!" We have also talked about giving credit to the right person and citing our information by writing the title of the book where we found the information, the author, and the page number.  We will build up to using online sources as well.  We have a "Look what we've learned from our non-fiction books" bulletin board.  Students will make small posters that have the question, the answer, and the citation for each Wonderbox question we complete.  

Now- what happens if we can't find the answer to the questions?  What else than to ask other people?  But we all know that's nearly impossible with our crazy days.  So we put up a bulletin board outside of our classroom that says. "We can't find the answers to these questions, can you help us?- Don't forget to tell us where you found your information! Here's an example.." (Pointing to an example)  We attached markers to the paper with string and will check it everyday to see if anybody was able to answer our hard to find questions!  Wish I had a picture of it, but I forgot to take one!

So the last thing we did this week that y'all might like..  On Friday, when I introduced noticing and remembering new learning, we talked a lot about Schema, thinking about what we already knew about the topic we were going to read about, and then keeping track of our new learning on sticky notes.  I referred to the schema as a "File" in their head that stored all of the information about that topic. I had a big file folder cut out of poster paper.  We put what we already knew about weather on one side of the open folder on sticky notes.  Then, we read a book about weather and kept track of our new learning on a different color sticky note and put it on the opposite side.  Last, we made new schema by connecting what we already knew with what we learned to make it easier to remember.  They really got it!  They put it to good use when they got their own "Schema" Folder (I gave each student a file folder).  They had to do the same thing we had done during our mini-lesson.  They seriously loved it!  They keep their Schema folders in the Book Box so that they can always use this strategy.

So- that's what going on in our world of Non-Fiction!  Hope that maybe you can use some of the freebies.  I'll post sometime during the week about our "Conventions Notebooks."  We are starting those this week!  Hope everyone had a great Monday, I know I did.. I LOVE days off!! :)


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Vocabulary, Social Studies, and Catching up...

WOW! How long as it been since I posted on here? Like, weeks right?! It has been crazy over here on my side of the world.  I feel like I haven't been able to get anything done, just starting things here and there.  Ever feel that way?  Being a new teacher, I'm finding it hard to have the time to do anything that I enjoy.. *cough cough* Blogging!  I have SO much to do, it's insane (but who doesn't have so much to do, I mean we are teachers.. our to do list is growing at a rate twice as fast as we can cross things off). Between being on the district ELA committee, and School-based Common Core planning team, participating in a university study, Incredible years, and my Beginning teacher requirements (yes this include reading assignments where we actually have to respond on Moodle through a Moodle Course, as if Beginning teachers don't already have enough to do).. I'm feeling VERY behind.  

On to the classroom!  We have been having a lot of fun in second grade.  I didn't think I would like second grade so much, but I'm really enjoying it... Even my kids who drive me BONKERS!!  Last week, we were finishing up realistic fiction writing and a majority of my kids were finished.  I had a few students come up to me and ask if they could work in a group to write a story together.  I pondered for a minute, fearing the arguments I would have to break up and disagreements I would have to help solve, but decided to let them have the option of writing a story in a group, or by themselves.  Well- let me tell you.. they were doing a FABULOUS job working in their writing groups.  Groups were working collaboratively to decide on what the story would be about, and how to fill the details.  On Thursday, as I looked around the room while I was helping one of my kiddos finish his story, I saw one group of 3 quietly acting out their story so they didn't miss any details...and another using book they've read to search diligently for the best descriptive words to add to their stories.  It just made me smile from ear to ear!! 

In social studies, we just finished up learning about Government and U.S. Symbols.  For this project, I decided to put my kiddos into groups of 3 to "research" and put together a poster and presentation on 1 U.S. Symbol.  These came out so unbelievably wonderful, I was so happy with what they came up with.  Basically, what I did for this was decide on which U.S. symbols I wanted them to really learn about- I decided on the Statue of Liberty, The Bald Eagle, The Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, Mount Rushmore, and the Liberty Bell.  I printed out kid friendly pages off of the internet that they could use for their project, and got books from the library on each symbol.. I also looked up some videos on BrainPopJr, discovery education, and you tube.  Then I made question sheets for things they needed to include in their presentation.  I was fearful of going this because a lot of my kids don't seem to get along very much and tend to argue, but they worked SO WELL together!  One of my groups created "Group Norms" that included "Don't be annoying, work together, share the work".  It was so cute and I was so proud that they have learned to create expectations amongst themselves and it doesn't have to be whole class.  After our project was done, they even asked if we could do something that like again!! I love it!

So I'll post again tomorrow to let you know all the cool things we're doing in Reading Workshop.  We just started Non-fiction and my kids are enjoying everything they are learning.  I love to see them excited about what we are doing.  But to end this post... I just finished typing the posters up for my Vocabulary Word a Day last night.  There are 144 Words, for 36 weeks of instruction (introducing 4 words a week with a review day on Friday).  These come from Evan-Moor's a Word a Day for grade 2.  The book includes a review sheet and quick assessment for each set of 4 words.  If you're interested in those, I would definitely suggest buying it.  You can buy a new one from amazon for around $12.00.  So each day, Monday-Thursday during morning meeting, I introduce one new Vocabulary Word.  As a class, we think about synonyms and antonyms of the word, act it out if we can and then I give them the word in a sentence.  Last, I ask them to think of their own sentence and then I ask them to tell their sentence to their neighbor.  I can tell just from 4 words of implementing this in our room that my kiddos vocabulary is building, and it is also building on their comprehension.  Click the link on the picture below to head over to my TPT store and purchase this vocabulary pack good for the whole school year!  If you would like a colored border, please just let me know and I'll do my best to get it to you asap. Since I can't print in color at school, I tend to make things black and white and print on colored paper.  For these, I have them printed on Green/Blue/Pink alternating colors and the words are displayed over my smartboard :)

Ok Here it is...

Alright- so since we have tomorrow of, I should be able to update you guys on all of our Non-Fiction Fun!!  My kids have loved what we are doing and I'm sure you're would love it to.  Hopefully I'll be posting a freebie tomorrow too, so make sure to stop by tomorrow night and check in!

Happy Birthday to Me on Tuesday!! Halfway to 50, ah that's scary.

TTFN Y'all! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I have to wake up at WHAT time??

Right now, I am SO not looking forward to tomorrow.  My fiancee is going to Washington D.C. with his 5th grade class until Friday.. And guess what that means?! I have to be up at 330 AM!! The disadvantages of only have one car.  To top it off, we live half an hour away, so I will be at school by 6:00 a.m. (at the latest!) unless I want to drive all the way back home and then all the way back, leaving me an hour and a half before my kids get there, and Oh yea, the Icing on the cake, it's PLC day so I have ZERO time away from kids until 1:35.  That's a LONG day.  I also told one of my kids that if he won his soccer game tonight, I would go see his Championship game tomorrow night.  Sometimes I wonder why I say Yes to these things..

So since I will be surrounded by kids from 7:30-1:30 (because I don't have duty free lunch and no specials until the afternoon), I have been racking my tired brain trying to think of some fun activities for my kiddos to do for our Government unit.  This week we are learning about U.S. Symbols and here's what I thought.  I'm really trying this year to implement more of a project approach to Science/S.S. And of course, my better idea always come last minute - That's how it always is, right? :)

I am going to put my kiddos in groups of either 2 or 3 (I haven't quite decided whether they will work better with just one partner, or 2).  I'm going to give each group an American Symbol, a laptop, and some books/resources printed from the internet on the symbol they are given.  Their task is going to be to make a poster for their Symbol and teach us what it is, what it stands for, and other important facts about it.  They'll have to draw a picture, label, etc.  Then they will be able to present.  I'm thinking this will probably take them about 2 days.

Symbol I'm thinking about:
-Statue of Liberty
-Liberty Bell
-Bald Eagle
-Mount Rushmore
-The Declaration of Independence
-The Star Spangled Banner

I guess I better get moving on this so it's all ready for tomorrow.  If I decide to do it and put something together, I'll be sure to post for y'all.  I love this place for somewhere to get my ideas about :).  Now, I just need somebody to tell me that it's super great and that it will work out EXACTLY how I want it to.. :) LOL

Hope you have a fabulous (not as long and tiring as mine will be) Thursday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Struggling Spellers

How many of us can say that some of our students are just really terrible at spelling?  If you have zero students who are absolutely horrific spellers, than I need to know what program you use, because this year, I've got about 5 who are just awful.  So I was searching and asking around for ideas of how to help these kiddos (besides our small group instruction during word study) and someone had suggested introducing them to Keywords.  Ok, some of you may be asking, "What do you mean keywords?" and others of you are probably like "Oh yea, that's old news.." :).. but my team and I decided to go with it and this is what I came up with...

The keyword list is a list of the 38 most common rhyming spelling patterns.  My team decided on a keyword to use for the whole second grade so everyone would be on the same page.  There is one keyword for each ending, and knowing how to spell that word, will help you spell many other words.  Here is the list, if you'd like it.. Just click & save!

I boxed around the rhyming endings.. you can obviously change the key words if you want to, these are just the ones we decided on as a team.

Ok, so this is how I go about teaching these keywords with my entire class, and then with my 5 really awful spellers...

I've chosen to introduce one new keyword a day until we've hit them all.  I introduce the days keyword in our morning meeting and as a class, we come up with as many other words that we can that have the same spelling pattern/rhyme.  Then, during either Reading Workshop when I'm working on word study with my little friends, or during our normal word study time, my terrible spellers fill in their personal "Keyword Dictionary".  Each keyword has it's own page with the rhyme/pattern boxed, and multiple lines for students to add words they can think of that go with it.  Then, after they add this to their repertoire of keywords, I expect them to spell words with the same pattern right MOST of the time.   You have to make sure you keep in mind those homophones/similar sound spelling patterns when the word could be spelled both ways.  

So far, this seems to be working with my strugglers.  If they're trying to spell a work that they are having trouble with, I remind them.. "Will any of your keywords help you??" Then they can take a look.  I put the dictionary I created on TPT, so click on the picture below if you'd like a copy :)

**Update: I had this set on my school computer and they must have cleaned  out the drive without warning us.  UGH!  I spend SO much time on this :(.  Will work on redoing it, but I probably won't finish for a while, sorry!  I knew I should've put it on my USB! Rawr*

Let me know what you think and if you have any other ideas of how to help your struggling spellers.  I would love to hear what's worked for you! I'm always up for new ideas :)

Now off to watching the rest of this debate and heading to bed!

Goodnight my fellow bloggers - 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Questioning, Elections, and Giants

I've just finished planning for my week ahead (Just in time for The Walking Dead!!).. I have to stop this planning last minute thing!

Well, anyway... This week is Reader's Workshop, we are going to be focusing on questioning.  I really needed to hit this before my kiddos start their book clubs/literature circles, but they're also starting them tomorrow, so we'll be learning it as we go :).  Tomorrow we're going to start with a read aloud.  I haven't quite figured out which book I'll read yet- It'll probably come to me while I'm sleeping.. Our reader's statement for tomorrow is going to be "Reader's ask questions before, during, and after they read".. I'm going to have students, in their Reader's Response Journals, write down 1 questions they have before we start reading our read aloud, 1 during, and 1 after.  I will also model as we go along (of course!!) And we'll talk about why it's important to ask questions while we read.

Tuesday & Wednesday we will focus on identifying questions as either Thick or Thin.  On Tuesday,we'll start by writing questions on a sticky note for our next Read aloud (We are writing Realistic fiction stories, so I'm thinking some Eve Bunting or Patricia Polacco would go well with these objectives).. and then we will sort them.  We'll go over what Thin questions are and focus on asking/answering thin questions.

On Wednesday, we'll focus on Thick questions.  We'll focus on what these questions ask and how they isn't a right or wrong answer because you have to infer based on what you already know.  Here are some little posters I put together for both types of questions.  (Just click on them and then save them to your computer if you'd like to use them) or Click here to head to google drive and download an updated version.


FINALLY- on Thursday and Friday we will focus on answering Thick questions.  They will first work with partners and then in groups.  I think it's super important that they learn to accept all opinions and to disagree *politely* if they have a different opinion.  And I want them to know that it's OK to not have the same ideas, because we all bring different Schema and thinking to the stories we read.  

I'll give them these bookmark to put in their books so they can always remember to ask questions while they read, and the different between Thick and Thin questions...

In S.S. this week, we will be working on symbols (Both NC & the US), but next week, we are going to begin digging more into elections.  I think it's super important for kids to know more than just what they hear at home.  I'm not going to get into the candidates/issues etc, I mean..they're second graders... but I was thinking about having them run a short campaign for a class mascot.  We'll start with forming our parties, and announcing the mascot's candidacy.  They will make posters & write speeches to give to the class as to why their mascot would be the best mascot.  It'll get them thinking about what's most important in our class and our school.    Hopefully I'll have a little something put together for that soon, and once I do, I'll be sure to post!

And of course, I just have to rejoice in my glory that the NY Giants won today!! Yahoo.. Thanks to Victor Cruz and his TD reception.  I really wish they played the game down here in NC, but of course Carolina had to play at the same time.. Boo!! At least I got to watch the Jets/Pats game and see whether my sister (Jet's fan) or my Dad (pats fan) would get bragging rights.  Of course, dad won.. 

Well, that's all for now.. off to finish watching The Walking Dead..


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Freaky movies...and the three branches of government

So, I just got back from the movies.  I went to see Paranormal Activity 4, and I hate scary movies!  When I was 16-ish (I think), I saw The Ring and I refused to sleep in my basement room all by myself for about 6 weeks- so I made myself at home in my little sisters room on the pull out bed.  The only reason I agreed to go is because I've seen the 3 before, and wasn't afraid to go out in my backyard past dark (pathetic I know).Needless to say, I was a little scared to head out to this movie.. but it wasn't too bad.   The thing about these, is that they make you jump and get your heart racing.  The best part in this one was at the end when one woman screamed at the top of her lungs.. the entire theater was laughing, including herself.  

And as for what's going on in my world of second grade... We have been studying government.  This past week, we were working on the Three Branches of Government, including the "Who" and "What" of each branch, and we also began working on U.S. symbols.  I threw together this little activity to get them to remember the 3 branches, and thought I would share in case anyone wants to use it.  (I threw this activity together seriously in my one 40 minute planning period, so it's not top par, but since you're all so awesome, I'm sure you'll be able to make it better!)

Here's a picture of the finished product...

Basically, I printed out simple leaf templates on green paper (6 of them for each student) and had them write the "Who" and "What" of each branch.  That's all I'm really concerned with them knowing being so young, so I would add more in the upper grades, like how one branch checks the other etc.  I also printed out the names of each branch and a blank American Flag for them together.  Student made their own tree with the 3 branches, glued the names to each branch, and put the leaves on the correct branch.  They enjoyed putting them together and were super proud of the hard work they did.  I even hung them in the hallway for everyone to admire!

All in all, it was a simple, easy way to get them to remember "3 Branches" and the basics of each branch.  and it was really easy to throw together, especially last minute.  Here is a link to a leaf template that you could use.  I just typed the names of the branches in a cute font in word and had them cut out & glue them on.  And Viola, the 3 branches of government!  

Last, I promise, I'll get better at making things and posting them.. as well as posting more often.  I can feel myself getting into that "survival mode", ya know the mode that every teacher hits usually within a few weeks after the year first starts.  Well, I think since I had 3 weeks off, I got out of the groove and am rehitting that survival mode.. so once I get myself straightened out, the products will hopefully begin rolling.  Hope everyone has a FANTABULOUS rest of the weekend!  Football Sunday tomorrow, can't wait! :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

I've been boo'd!!

I decided to join in on the linky party hosted by Cynthia over at 2nd Grade Pad! I'm so glad Jessica boo'd me because I'm not quite sure I would've found her amazing blog!  I just love checking here to see everyone's ideas and serious awesomeness... =)

Here's out it works:  You need to BOO!! 3 bloggers.  1 who has more followers, 1 who has the same (or about the same) followers, and one with less.  Then, you get to treat them to an item in your TPT store for free.  Who doesn't love free stuff?  And who doesn't love the word to be spread about their blog?  NOBODY! (Or maybe a few, but then you're crazy..just sayin') So join in on the fun!

Here goes..

For more followers, I'm going with Laura over at Love to Teach

This girl is amazing.  We actually went to the same college together, she was just a few years ahead of me, so I know personally who awesome she is.  She has tons of amazing ideas, and she is quite possibly one of the most dedicated, hardworking people who just loves what she does.  Seriously, check out her blog, you won't regret it!

For (About) the same number of followers, I have to BOO Jessica back.. Her blog is called Joy in the Journey.. one thing that I'm really loving about blogging, is how sweet and supportive everyone is, including Jessica. Like me, she is a new blogger, and she's got some fab ideas that I think you'll like! Plus, she super sweet! You'll love her!

And last but not least, for someone with less, I'm going to Boo Bren over at The Teacher Diaries
She's just starting out, but all of you wonderful bloggers out there inspired her to join, so why not pay her a visit and let her know what you think? :)

Today, my little 2nd graders invited Scientist Justin into our room from Science Fun for Everyone.  If you live near the Research Triangle Park, I suggest checking them out.  They are a non-profit organization and their in school field trips aligned with NC Science Standards.  This guy was awesome!  The kids really loved him.  They did things like...

Build their own weather station

It includes a rain gauge (made from a plastic test tube- the scientist poured plaster in a little plastic cup and had them put the test tube on a wooden dowel by using a rubber band, then stick the dowel in the plaster, and put it up against the wall so it wouldn't fall over before it dried.), a string rubber banded on to see the wind blowing, and a UV Light detector (a UV bead) to detect how strong the sun is.  They're pretty cool and the kids couldn't wait to get them home to try them out (especially because it was raining)

They also go to see how fast they could make the wind blow...

They blew into the anemometer just 3 times to see how fast they could get it to spin, and then remembered their number.  They used a chart to compare their wind strength to "Calm Breeze, and Hurricane Winds" They tried really hard to get up to those hurricane winds, but none of them succeeded.  In fact, I think most of them only got as fast as a Calm Breeze..

They also watched a "Hail Storm"

They LOVED this!! The "hail" is little star pasta, and the scientist put Baking Soda and one other thing mixed with blue water.  It simulated how hail starts to fall, the wind blow it back up, and the hail gets bigger, and it falls again goes up, until it's so heavy that the wind can no longer push it up anymore.

Another thing they loved was trying their hand at separating these two things to simulate how strong air pressure can be...

They pulled and pulled and pulled.  We had to make sure they sat on the floor away from anything so that when they did come apart, they didn't so flying to the floor and hit their head!

And their favorite part!! The CLOUD BLASTER!! Our scientist filled his blaster with clouds from his cloud machine and then tried out his aim to see if he could knock our Science "Party Hats" off of each and everyone of our 18 little heads..

All in all, it was quite the enjoyable Monday (rare- right?)  Nobody enjoys Mondays, no matter how much you love your job, but today was a lot of fun!  

Last- I'm working on putting together a Vocabulary Yearlong plan.  With the new common core, it's more important than ever to expose students to words that might not regularly come across.  This is why I've implemented a "Vocabulary Word a Day" in my room.  I post the word at the beginning of the day.  We look up the definition, we use it in a sentence, then we think of Synonyms and Antonyms for that word (We do this during our morning meeting).  The kids are enjoying it and love learning a new word everyday.  They try hard to use it while they are talking or in their writing.  And they love the fact that I have to say these words in order to transition after instructions.  They just crack up when I give them directions and then say "pounce" so they can move.  Some of them even try to pounce (of course-right??)  So if you have any ideas of what to include in this unit- I'd love to hear your ideas.  I'm putting together posters for 180+ vocabulary words, possibly a morning work activity with the vocabulary word of the day, some writing activities, and assessments.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

Ok- I should get my butt up and making dinner before my show comes on!  The Voice!! I'm a reality TV/TruTV/competitions TV junkie (Except American Idol- I used to love it but it's just getting OLD, they need Simon and Paula back!!) -Ridiculous I know, but they are my guilty pleasures..Hardcore Paw, Lizard Lick Towing, and Operation Repo being the best :D

Ok Night Y'all!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Silly Kids...

This blogging is hard to keep up on when you are so exhausted at the end of the day!  I will try to do a better job at keeping up.. I'm just getting back into the groove after 3 weeks off!  Can't gain followers unless I keep on posting right?!! :)

Anyway- I jut wanted to share my latest laugh from one of my little second graders..  As we were leaving from school on Friday, headed to the car rider line, this is the conversation....

Student: "Ms G, You're a hero"
Me: "Well that's very sweet of you, why do you think I'm a hero?"
Student: "Because you are a teacher, and teachers help make us smart..... AND help us stay out of puddles!"

So apparently, asking students to stay out of mud puddles on the playground makes you a hero!  

I've also finished posting all the student friendly "I Can statements" for 2nd grade for each of the ELA common core strands.  I sell them individually and as a pack (You can buy the pack for just $6, but if you buy them separately, you'll spend $12) So here's the link to the pack of them.  If you want just one specific strand, you can go to my store and find them there!

Happy Sunday! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October Currently and Sisterly Love

I decided to link up for the first time with Farley over at Oh' Boy, 4th Grade! for her October Currently.. So here goes! :)

Make sure you go check our Farley's page and link up on all the fun!

I had an unexpected visit from my little sister this weekend!  She moved down to Charlotte to attend Johnson and Wales College for event management.  [Really, she just chose it to follow her big sis, cause I'm so cool ;) ]   When she got here, this is how she was greeted...

Ah yes, that's my Kole- Lover extraordinaire.  He wants to make sure everyone gets love, but of course, he better get it in return, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  And if he doesn't, he'll be sure to let you know by stealing that towel you left on the counter, or chewing up your shoes.  Silly puppy.

Right now, I should probably be making sure I have everything ready for tomorrow.  I've had the past 3 weeks off for intersession, the perks of working at a year round school.. but have been slacking quite a bit.. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what we're going to do tomorrow, so I'm off plan while watching the end of the giants game.. Let's hope they don't slack off and lose their lead.  Hope everyone who has Columbus Day off has a restful Monday!  As for me, I'll be back to my second grade lovelies..

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Word Study- and what to do with those kids who already know everything you're teaching

When I was officially offered my first job as a second grade teacher, I was ecstatic.  I had been working hard for this, and was so glad that I finally was going to get the chance to have my own classroom with 20 or so little ones that think I am the best thing since XBOX - sad but true (back in my day, my teacher was the best thing since anything that had to do with playing outside!)

Then, I started thinking about how I was going to do everything.  I already knew Reader's and Writer's workshop were a must, not only because I love them, but because it's a county wide initiative.. [ and if you don't use reader's and writer's workshop, I HIGHLY recommend it! ]- and this I had already taught when I covered a long term leave, so I wasn't too worried.. Plus I have a pretty awesome team, so they would be sure to be a major help for mini-lessons etc.

Then math.. well, our county uses Math Expressions, so I was pretty good with that.. 

Science & Social Studies.. The NC Essential Standards are pretty straight forward- just have to be creative..

Word Study... Ugh, word study.. This is where I really struggled when I subbed in third grade at the beginning of last year.  We were using the Words their Way books, which are good, but.. 1.) It's hard to keep up with 3-4 separate groups of spelling patterns and 2.) The kids just weren't getting it.  When I became the TA for the last 3/4 of the year in 2nd grade last year, the kids were given 10 words from their assigned pattern.  I quickly noticed that MOST, not all, but most of the students just memorized their 10 words, and the next time they had to spell a word with that pattern.. 7 times out of 10, it was wrong..  so I really thought a lot about word study and did a lot of research.  I fell in absolute { LOVE LOVE LOVE } with Beth Newingham's word study program.  You can read about it here.  Basically, the students all work on the same spelling pattern, but study words that are appropriate to their current spelling abilities of the pattern for the week.  Students not only practice their assigned pattern words, but other words that fit the pattern, and are given a test on 10 words that they have seen, but have not studied.  It's a great way to see if the kids actually learned the pattern, and not memorized the words.

SO.. I was going to get started right away coming up with the patterns and lists, but decided to do a little more research and came across the most wonderful thing EVER!  Hope King had already created the lists!! Thank Goodness!  She saved me a lot of time and frustration that I was able to put into other things.. The best part is, Her Second Grade Word Work was only $10!! If you are looking for a new spelling program, I highly suggest checkout out Beth Newingham's ideas and saving yourself a lot of time and money and buying the lists from Hope.  She even includes letters to the parents to help them understand the pattern, and menu activities that kids can complete for homework.  Serious Awesomeness!

So, as far as the sight words/high frequency words go, I have a large handful of kiddos who have already mastered K/1/2 words and I was looking for a way to challenge them in this area.  I had thought about using Vocabulary instead, but then decided that the class needs vocab as a whole (Especially with Common Core!) so one day I was flipping through my Fountas and Pinnell resource book (We use this kit for running records) and found a whole bunch of word lists ranging from a 20 word list, and up.  So I decided to take the 200 word list and give this to my kiddos.  I decided to give them only the 2nd half of them, because the first half seemed like words they would already know.  I created flash cards for them to bring home to study.. So far, this seems to be working out and the parents are happy!  :D  How do you keep your kids challenged??  I would love to hear your ideas, and not just for word study!!

If you've been reading up until now, I think you definitely deserve something.. That was a lot of words. So leave a comment with your e-mail and I will send you the flashcards I created to use with your kids.. The first 5 to comment will get these!  You have to print/cut/hole punch/ put on a book ring or string... but I think they're really great!  Or, you could have your students cut them out!!  (I put them on a book ring to keep them all in one spot)

Ok, Ok, I think that's been enough for now.. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Little Inspiration :)

Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed and beat, I always go right to this video.  It helps me remember why I decided to become a teacher in the first place, and what I am doing for my kiddos everyday!  How do you stay inspired when you get discourage??

Monday, October 1, 2012

Phew... This blogging stuff can be tiring

WOW! Who knew that creating a blog would be so much work? I'm sure it will be much easier once I get it exactly how I want it and I've added what I want to.. but I've spent hours looking up tutorials, creating HTML.. adding/erasing and man am I TIRED! I'm sure it'll all be worth it though :)

.. BTW if you're looking for some (tutorials that is), I found some great easy ones to follow from The Cutest Blog on the Block.  She has links to some other blogs too!

Well, for the next 4 days + the weekend I am enjoying my last week of interession getting ready for 2nd quarter with my crazy 2nd graders, and getting things completed to add to my TPT Store  Right now, all I have up is a freebie + Justin's brilliant-ness.  So keep a look out for new resources for primary grades, aligned to common core.  

Until Next Time :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Perfect Classroom...

If you're like me, you long for that picture perfect classroom.  You know, the ones in the books?  The ones that are perfectly color coordinated.  All pencils have a pin point tip.  Books neatly organized in the library. Bright, clean carpet.  All papers organized and easy to find.  Psssshhhht.. we all know those pictures were taken the day BEFORE the kids enter the classroom.  Our days are crazy, unpredictable, and full of organized chaos.  So, while I'm on intersession (I teach at a year round school), I decided to beautify my room.  I took all of my Reader's Workshop hand written, mess of charts and posters and typed them up, printed them on colored paper, and replaced those messy ones.  So I decided to share with y'all in case you long for that picture perfect room like me.

This freebie includes:

IPICK Good Fit Books - In my county, we use the Readers and Writers workshop approach to literacy.  I love it because the kids are much more willing and excited to read.  We use PICK to help them get a general idea of if a book will be a good fit for them.


Retelling a Story
Our first quarter together, one thing we focused on is students ability to retell a story using Who, When, Where, What, Why, and How.  Students used this poster to remember what each question entails.

3 ways to read  a book!


Ways to determine whether a book is easy, too hard, or just right
In my room, we use a Stoplight.  

Red means "STOP! This book is too hard for you.  You are not quite ready to read this book yet, but if you keep reading just-right books, you'll be able to read this one in no time!"

Yellow means "Slow down!  These books are too easy for you.  If you ready too many of these, you won't become a better reader because you are not using your strategies. Read some, but not too many!"

Green means "Go Go Go!! These books are just right for you.  Keep reading these and thinking about your reading to become a better reader!"

Click Here to download all of these freebies. (I'm still working on learning how to link images etc, so bare with me).  And as always, suggestions are welcome and appreciated :)

Until Next Time