Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing Workshop: Writer's Notebooks

Can I just start by saying I L.O.V.E. workshop.  Workshop everything.  Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies.  Everything in my classroom is workshop! Why, you ask?  It allows me to give a quick lesson for introduction (how long can second graders sit and pay attention anyway?), provide intervention for those kiddos who need a little extra time, and enrichment for the little ones who already get it!  Then we get to come back together at the end to do a quick share/review.  If you don't use workshop, I highly suggest it.  With that being said, I'm here today to tell you a little bit about my Writer's Notebooks. 

I'm so excited for this weekly linky about different components of Writing Workshop, hosted by Growing Firsties so I can read about everyone else's fabulous ideas! (Click on the picture above to join in or read other posts about Writer's Notebooks)
So, first things first.  I always send home a "Summer Assignment" with my school supply list.  The assignment is easy; think of things that are important to you, and find pictures to represent them.  Look through magazines, your families pictures, on the internet, or anywhere.  The pictures should come to school in a ziploc bag labelled with the kiddos name on the first day!  We use these pictures/cut outs to personalize notebooks and make it represent ourselves!  My kiddos just love this - and it makes it really easy to find their own notebook.
How do we use them?
-Writing Homework!  Starting about halfway through the 1st quarter, after we've already had lots of practice with our writer's notebooks, students have nightly writing homework.  Usually, it's just 10 minutes of "free write" time.  They can write songs, poems, fiction, non fiction, shopping lists, anything they set their little hearts on.  On occasion, students might have to finish a writing assignment they didn't finish at school, or I might give them a writing assignment for the night.  For those little ones who have difficulty generating ideas, I will typically send home a list of writing prompts and they can choose one of those if they are stuck.  This is the first year we've done writing homework in 2nd grade and the kids have shown tremendous growth in their writing stamina, their ability to generate ideas on their own, creativity, and just plain ole' willingness to write!  Students put their notebooks on their desk each morning open to the last nights writing for me to check.
-Reflections!  Maybe we went on a field trip or a school assembly.  Maybe we had a visitor come & share some expert knowledge.  First thing we do when we get back into the classroom is pull out our notebooks & reflect.  What did we learn?  What did we like?  What didn't we like?  What else are we wondering?  Fabulous for review writing!
-Idea Lists!  The first few pages of our writing notebooks are reserved for ideas.  Whenever we get an idea for something to write about, we just add it to our running list of topic ideas.  We have lists arranged by writing genre : Personal Narrative, Review, All About, How to, etc.  They also have a list that may not fit into any of the writing genres we studied.
Where do you keep them?
Well- I recently recieved seat sacks from a lovely grandmother of one of my students, so after we get back from break, they'll stay in their seak sacks! Can I get a Hallelujah?!? 
Before, we had a dedicated spot for EVERYTHING in our room.  Since I have tables, they had no desk storage space, so we kept our Writing notebooks at the Writing Center, Reading Journals in our BOBs, Math Journals at the Math Center, etc.  Basically, a huge pain because of the time you have to spend with kids getting & putting away materials.  Not anymore!!
Writer's Notebook Rules:
  • Don't write anything you wouldn't want someone else to read.  Be respectful & kind of other people and things.
  • Put in your best effort.
  • Start each new piece on a new page with the date on top!
  • Write as neatly as you can, I would hate to not be able to read a wonderful piece of work you spent time writing because you wrote sloppy!
WOW! That was a lot of writing. Thanks for sticking with me.  Hope maybe you got some ideas for using a Writer's Notebook with your kiddos.  I think that's about it.  I'm probably forgetting always :).  I would LOVE to hear how other people use their Writer's Notebooks in their classroom. Head on over to Growing Firsties to link up!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Let's get Acquainted... My Favorite Things

Last night while I was half sleeping, a post idea ran through my mind.  Something that we've been doing that I thought y'all might like to hear.  But wouldn't you know it, I didn't actually get up to write it down, so now I can't remember what it was!! Musta been a lie (or at least thats what my mom always said about the things I wanted to tell her that I all of a sudden, forgot,when I finally had the chance to tell her).  Hopefully it will come back to me.  Since I can't remember... 

Another week, another "getting to know you" linky! Latoya over at Flying into First Grade had a fabulous idea! Hop on over to be blog to join in on the fun! This week is your favorite things; a person, place, thing, and animal! So here goes..

My favorite people:

My Parents!! (Of Course)  My mom and dad are absolutely AMAZING people. I cannot even imagine where I would be if I didn't have them in my life.  The taught me to be responsible, respectful, independent, caring, and everything else that wonderful parents do for there kids.  They are the strongest people I know.  The both work ridiculously hard, my dad with 3 jobs.  He recently got hit by a car on the job and he refused to let that even stop him!  I think he spend a total of about 2 days on the couch and then got to exercising his leg so he could get back to work!  And my mom is one of the kindest, strongest people anyone would ever have the pleasure of knowing.  She thinks of herself last and always strives to make sure everyone is happy.  They taught me to be the woman I am today.  I could never thank them enough for everything they have ever done for me!

Favorite place:

The beach- I love the feel of sand beneath me feet and the waves crashing on the beach.  It is where I feel most at ease.   (Sound like any Kenny Chesney song you know?)

Favorite thing:

This is a tough one.  I don't think I have a favorite thing.  Maybe my blanket that I got years ago for Christmas.  When I'm at home, I'm always wrapped in it.  I'm always freezing.  But my blanket keeps me nice and warm.  I fear the few years down the road when I will have to replace it, it's already got some holes.. I'm not sure I'll found one as comfy and warm!  Pathetic, I know.

Favorite Animal/Pet(s):

I can't have just 1.  I have 2 favorite pets & 1 favorite wild animal!  My cat, Cali, was my first baby. 

And of course, my puppy, Kole.  He always knows how to make my day better.  He even lets me dress him up for the Oscars...
That's the "What the heck did you do me to, Mom?!" face
And for my favorite wild animal, Giraffes!
I'm not sure what it is about them, or why they are my favorite.  They just are! :)
Well there's my favorite things!  Don't forgot to hope on over to Latoya's blog & join in on the linky fun!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tech it to the Max

My fiancee & new blogger, Justin, is going to have a new weekly feature called "Tech it to the Max" This weekly feature will give ideas for technology integration throughout your scool day.  Our district has already gone 1:1 with grades 6-12, and next year they roll out with the grades 4-5 1:1 initiative.  This week, he's looking for ideas.  What technology do you use in your classroom?  Head on over to his blog , Classroom Game Plan, to read a little more about Tech it to the Max! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Lie & New Unit!

This week I linked up with Latoya for her Lets Get Acquainted Linky.  I can't wait to see what next weeks has in store for us, but this week was 2 truths and a lie.  Nobody guessed my lie!

Yes- I did change my major 3 times.  I'm not one of those "Always knew I was gonna be a teacher" people, but I am definitely one of those "meant to be a teacher" people!

Yes- My coach told me she knew the hit was bad when she saw me cry.  I can't even count the number of times I got hit playing field hockey, ones that weren't so bad, and ones that were really bad and I NEVER cried... but this one particular hit just got me in the right place.  I think I was having a bad day to top it off- so, yeah, coach knew!

No- I am not a crazy crafter.  I WISH I was a crazy crafter but can never seem to manage the time or getting the materials to do all the cute things I find.  One day!

Onto my newest unit...

My district uses Words Their Way for our word study program.  I can't really quite figure out how to get it to work the way I want it to.  Basically, it's just driving me crazy!  When I was thinking about my inability struggle to teach using Words their Way (Hey we all have an "area" right?) , and my struggling spellers, I knew I could not let them fall even farther behind.  I talked to a few people and one handed me a list of the most common Rhyme patterns and suggested using "Keywords" to help students recognize, read, and spell many other words.  I thought the idea was brilliant but didn't want to lose sight of the "sort" theory so I made my own program for them.  Therefore, comes the creation of Word Work for your Struggling Spellers!

The basic idea is to study short and long vowel sounds made by working with the Rhymes.  I've split it up into studying short, then studying long- but you could do it anyway that best fit you
In this unit, you will find:

  • 19 weeks worth of word study
  • An Introduction Letter to families explaining the program & homework

  • Homework Activities
  • A general teacher plan
  • Student weekly plan poster
  • Sorts for each week (2 keywords per week)

  • Spelling Dictionary using rhyme patterns

This year, I chose to use this spelling dictionary organized by Short/Long vowel sounds for each vowel and alphabetically.  Next year, I think I'll try using my "regular" Spelling dictionary that my other kiddos use so that they can put their high frequency words in there, and can practice using a dictionary. All in All, our studies are going well and my kiddos are definitely growing.  I don't just focus on the Rhyme pattern, but the vowel sound in relation to magic e, dipthongs, etc.  I also incorporate blends into our discussions.  

Well- if you'd like this unit, you can pick it up from my TPT store.. here

I'm off to IKEA- One of the coolest places known to man to do furniture shopping! Yippee!

P.S. Can somebody help me?  I want custom Pinterest & TPT Buttons that match my blog instead of those ugly generic plain ones.  But I cannot figure out how to do it! Anybody know of any tutorials?  I can't even figure out how to make a circle from part of a box.  Rawr.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my first...
What?! Yep, my first Friday Five.  And guess what? NONE of it has anything to do with school.  Wanna know why?  Spring Break! Yahoo.  Our last day was Tuesday (Monday student day, Tuesday teacher workday) and I don't have to go back until the 2nd week in April.  Can I get a halleljuah?? Here's what I've been up to this week..
I continued working on my "Sustainable town" unit & it is almost complete!  It's just getting looked over by a few lovely people, getting a few add ons and it will be ready to go!
I finished this unit that I use with my struggling spellers.  This one is NOW available in my TPT store! I'm feeling pretty accomplished so far in my 3 full days off.
I was brave enough to bring my pup to school yesterday so I could get some work done in my room.  Catching up on my Clutter Free Classroom Projects & what not.  I SO thought that those shots he got at the vet before we went would tired him out, well, I was SO wrong.
I've been sweating all week, waiting to hear on our *hopeful* big purchase!  Tranferred all utilities into my name/Justins name & supposed to close on the 28th.  Ahhh, fingers crossed!  Thinking positive!
And last, I read an amazing story about a little miracle baby over at Beg, Borrow Steal- Click on the button to take you to her site and read all about Baby Easton.  Donations are being accepted to help the family pay their medical bills as well!
Well, thats it! That's my week! Come back tomorrow to learn my lie from the linky & learn about my new word work unit! 
Later Y'all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2 Truths and A Lie

Latoya over at Flying into First is hosting a weekly linky party that looks like SO much fun, so I decided to join in!  It's a great way to get to know some of your new bloggy buds!

This week is 2 Truths and A Lie.  Tell 3 things about yourself, but one has to be a lie.  Of course, be sure to be creative, otherwise people will be able to guess it right away!  Don't give it away, have your bloggy buds guess in your comments & tell at the end of the week.  Ok, well I'm a little late joining this linky, so I'll probably post again on Saturday and tell you my lie!

Here are my 3:

1.) I changed my major 3 times, from Veterinary Medicine, to Music, to Education.

2.) After getting hit with a ball in the knee during a field hockey game, my coach told me she knew it must've been bad because she had never seen me cry before.

3.) I'm a crazy crafter and am always looking for fun things to make for my house or classroom.

So can you take a stab at my lie?  Leave me a comment below with your guess!  From all the correct guesses, I'll choose 1 person to win a product of their choice from my TPT store.  Don't forget to go link up with Latoya!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Laughing, Leadership, and Lovely Creations!


I was reading a book today with one of my kiddos.  I asked her how the character changed from beginning to end.  Her explanation was, "In the beginning he was off the chains..." Yep, I just had to turn and laugh chuckle quietly to myself.  Then I was a bit disturbed, wondering where in the world she learned it from.  My, Oh My.


Today we had a faculty meeting.  Our principal arranged for the Mayor of our town, who does a lot of leadership consulting, along with one of his colleagues to come in and do an activity with us on leadership.  Our task was this...

The Marshmallow Challenge

Have you ever tried this before?  It's interesting & quite insightful!

In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

It was neat to see how we balanced each others strengths and weaknesses, who took a leadership role, who stepped back, and how teams worked together.  The whole point of the activity is to get you thinking about Leadership and what it is. How do we, as teachers, lead?  Obviously in many ways!!  After we completed the task, they showed us this video..

Can you believe that kindergarteners built the best towers?  I actually find it not too hard to believe because of their patience with strucutres (Think legos!) and ability to think about the process and how they would get to the end point... It was really interesting, nonetheless!  I'm debating trying it with my kiddos when we get back from intersession.  If I do, I'll be sure to share how it went!

I'm sad to say that my teams structure did not stay up :(.  Failuuuuure.  No wait, as Coach (our PE teacher) says, "If you had fun, you WON!" so we totally won!

Anyway, one of my teaching pals and I managed to make this super cute little guy after our structure failed to do its job!  Darn spaghetti!  Here is our lovely creation!

What does your school do to promote leadership?

How do you promote leadership in your classroom?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The COOLEST site!

Hey Y'all!

I was recently introduced to this SUPER COOL site- I was introduced to the Math side of it and I recently went a lookin' at the non-math side and fell even more in <3Love<3 with it!  It's got vocabulary games, grammar games, geography, science, ELA, health, brain, history, nutrition... Seriously, pretty much everything imaginable.  And the best part?? It's TOTALLY free! It's called Sheppard Software.

Have you seen this site?  If not, you are totally missing out. If you have, how did you hide this from me for so long?  My kids love, love, love working on the computer & playing games to learn (What kid doesn't?) And this is perfect for the early finishers, for a center or station, and even for indoor recess!  When kids pull up the games during indoor recess, I know we've hit gold! My kids love it and I'm pretty sure yours will too!  Check it out, you will be amazed! :)

I also want to add a little sale love to my post.  I was recently contacted by a woman who works on behalf of Kohl's (my FAV store!) to connect with bloggers.  She read all about my sad wardrobe and my need for a trip to Kohls.  Well, she shared { this } current sales page with me & I wanted to share it will y'all.  They're having one of their "Kohl's Cash" sales & if you get the little flyer in the mail, you can get 15, 20, or 30% (or 15% if you don't have the flyer) off your purchase when you use that Kohl's card.  And for every $50 you spend, you get $10 Kohl's Cash to spend later.  pure aYou know, the one that's NOT collecting dust because you use it so much?  They're also offering 10% off their online store to all bloggers.  It can even be stacked on top of one other coupon.  How awesome is that?! Imagine 30% off, then another 10%.  Ah-Mazing!!  I {heart} Kohls!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Currently & a Question

Thank you Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!, for providing me with a reason to blog!  Pure exhaustion is setting in as we approach our 10th week of the quarter and intersession creeping around the corner!  I can't even think!  So without further ado...

Yup, kickin' it ole school.  I've got my Pandora playing in the background while I'm planning.  I need to to calm me, or I might scream! :)  Music has that calming effect on me..And what better to listen to but the MC Hammer Station?  

T.L.I.A.I "Thank the Lord it's Almost Intersession!"  I am SO tired.  I mean really! I went to bed at 8:00 Friday AND Saturday this past weekend.  Sad, I know.  Luckily we've been working really hard and having lots of fun, so it's not a bad exhaustion, at least not all of it.. but it is exhaustion.  I need this 3 weeks to relax and rejuvenate!

Really Want/Need a whole entire new spring wardrobe!  If you looked in my closet, you would see a pathetic collection of clothes.  Pretty much nothing.  I should take a picture and prove it sometime.  Usually, people who say "I have no clothes" just means they have none that they want to wear.. but me, I really mean I have NO clothes. And shoes?  I have a pair of sneakers, 1 pair of falling apart flats, 2 pairs of flipflops, and 2 pairs of boots (Which are of course, not going to be in season for much longer).  I'm in desperate need of a Kohl's sale and some Kohl's Cash!

Like/Love the warmth & sun that is slowly coming back to NC!  It's been really chilly and I'm getting ready for the warm temps!!

Hate classroom disorganization!! More specifically, if my kids don't put things back where I told them to 5 times.  OR if they have papers all over their desk, back packs & coats falling out of cubbies.  Drives.Me.Crazy!  

So that's my currently for March!  Head on over to Farley's Page & link up! :)

On to my question.  I am in serious need of some Reading Workshop small group revamping.  How do you all work on things like comprehension/fluency/word i.d./vocabulary with your kiddos.. and what do you do with the kid who are way above grade level?  I meet with them 2x a week, but just individually.  Should I have them in a group?  We were doing book clubs for a while, but took a break.  I really liked those & they were good at even running them on their own!  Any help is appreciated :)