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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ms. Cuddy is Nutty - Literature Circle Resources

Literature circles are my favorite. Each time I put students in groups to read a "real" book they are SO excited. They talk about the book constantly and then even ask me if they can read their book if they finish their work early. It makes me so happy to have students love reading as much as I do! 

Ms. Cuddy is Nutty is my latest literature circle resource. It includes spelling lists, vocabulary lists, book club pages, and writing prompts to give you exactly what you need to launch this activity in your classroom (even if you haven't read the book)! 

Check it out in my TpT store! It's on sale for 20% off until the end of the week. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Biography Lap Books

Is it just me, or do your students cringe when they need to complete a nonfiction writing project? It seems like they just want to write about princesses, jedi knights, themselves, etc. Going back and consulting the text when writing is the last thing they want to do! 

Well, with the new standards being what they are, there is a greater emphasis on writing. This writing needs to be "College and Career Ready", and elementary students are being asked to write at a higher level of rigor than ever before. As I've heard people say, "Nobody cares what you did over summer vacation; students need to write effective expository writing." And of course, this type of writing is the last thing our students want to do.

Until.... you tie it into a lap book! 

For whatever reason, when students use "teacher" supplies they are immediately interested. File folders, pens, post it notes, you name it. Let them use something like that and you've got their attention!

I had my students write biographies about famous people. I selected books at their reading level from Reading A-Z, and had them write a biography about what they had learned. We really stressed going back to the book to look for information, after all, the book is there to help!

We had three headings: Early Years, Adult Life, and Fun Facts. Guess which one was their favorite to write about? 

Fun Facts, of course!

This was an in depth project, and some students needed much more time to complete it. I had early finishers complete their person's "Claim to Fame" and a timeline of important events. The main focus was really on writing the biography. 

The front cover was decorated with their person's name, and pictures that represent things they read about in the book. 

You could even take it a step further, and have students give presentations about what they learned from their famous person. That was the original plan, but we just ran out of time!

Click the image to check it out in my TpT store. It's on sale for 20% off until the end of the week!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five for Friday

I'm finally back for a Five for Friday post! I guess I can find the time to write one since it's Spring Break and all.. 

What better way to start Spring Break than with new clothes? I love me some Stitch Fix. 

I've been doing some spring cleaning. I finally decided to tackle the patio. Before it was so gross and dusty that I didn't want to spend any time out there. See what I mean?

It was totally gross. 

So with some new patio furniture and a little actually a ton bit of sweeping.. my patio is finally a place where I actually want to spend time! 

As  you can see.. even the kitties approve! 

We spent the weekend in Flagstaff. It was so nice to enjoy some cooler weather for a few days, and I actually got to wear some of my winter clothes. You just have to get away for spring break, even if it's just for a few days, right?

We're actually celebrating St. Patrick's Day today. I'm mostly Irish, so I have to do something to celebrate this holiday! I've never cooked any traditional Irish recipes, so I'll be trying one out for the first time tonight. I'm thinking of trying a Shepherd's Pie.. I'll be back later to post about how it turns out! #fingerscrossedittastesgood

But.. just because we're celebrating it tonight, I still had to make something green yesterday. Well, I tried to make them green anyway.. 

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies with apparently not enough green food coloring! I had about 1/4 of the food coloring left, so they are just speckled with green. Luckily, they taste delicious so it makes up for the fact that they're not really green. 

I was even able to enjoy these cookies out on my newly cleaned and decorated patio!

Number 5 is actually happening this weekend.. at a Spring Training Game! I love baseball, whether it's professional baseball or math baseball in my classroom. Click here to read about this fun, easy, and NO PREP game you can use in your classroom! 

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Vocabulary Routines

I love teaching vocabulary. Over the years I've developed some routines that work well to get the kiddos learning the new words. 

You know you're doing something right when students using these words in their daily conversations, and see them use new and old words in their writing. Yay, something finally stuck!

I do a lot of discussion and partner sharing the first three days we learn new words. We usually have 8 or 10 vocabulary words each week. I'll introduce half the words the first day, and the other half the second day. This video of Anita Archer really shows how I introduce the vocabulary words:

Day three we discuss the words with partners. Nothing too exciting that day, but it leads up to using the words in sentences. This is my favorite day - we work on writing sentences with correct conventions and get more practice using our vocabulary words. Win-win!

I have the students do this in partners. I believe the structure is called "Sage and Scribe". With this structure one student is the writer, and the other is the "teller". The teller tells the writer what to write down. We switch roles with each word so both partners get the chance to do both roles.

I like using this structure because it keeps all of the students engaged. The teller knows that they need to check what the writer writes, because the sentence doesn't always come out the same! It also eliminates the one student who never does anything because "they can't think of what to write" and keeps behavior issues to a minimum, too.

I stress writing sentences correctly because it leads to my vocabulary assessments. Guys.. these really up the level of rigor and force the students into those higher levels of thinking!

Students are required to rate their level of understanding for each word on a scale of 1-5. It starts off with 1 - not even knowing if it is a real word through 5 - writing the definition and using the word correctly in a sentence. I tell my students that writing the definition and a sentence for every word is the goal, and they can only choose a lower number if they are blanking on that word. Hey, if my 2nd graders can do this independently (with lots of modeling, guiding, and training ahead of time) then  anyone can do it!

Check out my Alternative Vocabulary Assessments - It's on sale for 20% off until the end of the week! Click the image to see this product in my TpT store.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March Pocket Chart Sentences

March is finally here, which means... Spring break will be here before we know it! Hang in there teachers.. we can make it!

Anyways, here's a resource that will *hopefully* help get you through until this much needed break. My March Pocket Chart Sentences unit includes 6 different paragraphs of mixed up sentences with February themes. It is on sale until the end of the week! 

Click the image to check it out in my shop.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Math Tip Monday - Math Baseball

Today I'm linking up with K's Classroom Kreations and Theresa's Teaching Tidbits for Math Tip Monday. This post is all about Spring Math Ideas!

When I hear spring, I immediately think of Spring Training! So why not play math baseball to keep the students engaged? 

When I play math games, I want them to be fun, meaningful, and most importantly easy for the teacher. I will not play a game that takes tons of time to set up and get the students ready to go. All you need is something for the students to write on (I usually use white boards or scratch paper) and something to display the problems. Quick, easy, and fun!

 My rules and procedures are always the same, and very little changes overall. But there is enough change so it feels like a new game to the kiddos! Click here to read about some of the other math games I play. 

The rules and procedures I use are:

1. Divide the class into teams. I either use 2 or 4 teams depending on the game and how much time we have.

2. Number off everyone on each team. 1 - however many students you have. Each team should have a number 1, number 2, number 3, etc. 

3. Everyone solves every problem. Gotta have that engagement!

4. Be quiet when solving the problems. I do not give warnings in games since it is usually a reward, so if this rule is broken that student will be out, or their team will lose points, move back, etc. The consequence depends on the game. I've found that if you are consistent with this then you have very little problems with students talking while solving the problems. 

5. Give the students enough time to solve the problem. Depending on what the problem is, and the strategy I want them to use, it usually takes between 45 seconds and 1 minute. Ultimately you need to keep the game moving forward, or you'll lose the students. If I call on a student and they have not finished the problem then they earn an out. 

6. Call out a number, and the student on all teams with that number show the answer. 

7. If it's right - they move forward. If it's wrong, they move backward OR stay in the spot. In math baseball I let them stay in their spot, but this changes depending on the game. When the team earns 3 outs, aka 3 wrong answers, then all of the students on the diamond go back to their seats. The outs are then reset and the game continues.

8. At the end I usually give the students the opportunity to get a grand slam, by solving a more challenging problem. It's always exciting when they score 4 runs at the very end of the game!

Here's what math baseball looks like:

On each plate I wrote H for home plate, and the numbers 1-3 for each of the bases. I have two baseball diamonds going simultaneously so each team has the chance to move forward each time. It definitely keeps them all engaged and is a lot of fun!

Check out these other blogs for some great spring math ideas:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Learning is a Buzz.. All About Bees!

Oh, bees. I LOVE teaching about bees! I didn't know anything about bees until I started teaching 2nd grade and we had a nonfiction story about bees in our basal reader. I thought the kiddos would be bored stiff and that it would be like pulling teeth to get through, but boy was I wrong! They are so interested in learning about bees and looking at the real pictures of bees. The engagement is there so what better time for a research project? 

We do a lot of research about bees, and end up making a bee portfolio to show what we have learned. The paper bag stores all of the completed papers and the students get to take it home when the project is completed. Something about writing on a paper bag instead of a regular piece of paper is so engaging to the kiddos. Hey, I'll do whatever it takes to keep them interested in learning!

This project covers several writing standards - Narrative writing, Acrostic poems, Expository writing (not pictured), Letter writing, and life cycles (also not pictured). 

Narrative Writing - You are the Queen Bee of a hive. Write about a day of your life as queen bee. 

Narrative Writing - You are a worker bee. Write about a day in your life as the worker bee.

Acrostic Poems.

Several different acrostic poems are included.

Letter Writing - Write a letter to a beekeeper.

We bring in a beekeeper that does this amazing presentation for all the 2nd grade classes, which makes the letter writing more interesting. The kids love her, and they think it's especially cool that she knew she wanted to become a beekeeper when she was in 2nd grade - and then she did! 

This fun project is on sale for 20% off until the end of the week. Click the picture to check it out!