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 :)