Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Monday Made It!: Guest Blogger Guidelines, Birthday Flowers and more Shelves

I am linking up with   

Painting the small shelves in my classroom lead to my next project.  I took one look at the larger shelves and decided they needed painting. In my hurry to get done I forgot to take pictures of the before look, but trust me when I finish the last bit on the back of one they will and do look a tone better.

My second project involves my class blog. I really wanted each of my students to have their own blog, but our district isn't ready to undertake this. My solution is to have my students take turns being guest bloggers on our classroom blog.  I created guidelines for them to follow and example posts for them to look at.  Click on the picture below to get the guest blogger guidelines. Check out my class blog (Happenings in 4S) the week of August 19th to few sample posts.

My last project is that I created the birthday flowers that I will give to my students. I bought the foam flowers at our local Alco store. I would guess you might find them in the dollar bins at Target. I write the students name and birthdate on them with sharpies and tape them to fun pencils!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Made It: Shelves, I Charts, Tag Team Revising, and Math by Myself

I'm linking up with  

The first project I completed this week, looked like this in the beginning:

With some elbow grease, patience, and help from my beautiful daughter it looked like this in the middle:

And here is the final product:

I am implementing Daily5 in my classroom this year, so I decided to put together I Charts for each of the rotations. Click on the image below to download them:

I have been reading up on teaching writing and looking forward to making some changes in how I teach writing. I found a cool idea for peer revising in an old issue of Bookbag Magazine, tweaked it to fit my needs and here it is:

I created several activities to be used during the Math by Myself rotation. The set includes some addition, place value, and multiplication. They would work great with strong second grade math students, at the end of the year for third grade and as review at the beginning of fourth grade. Click on the image below to check them out:

Have a great Monday! Enjoy what's left of your summer!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August Currently!

I can't believe it is time to link up at

 for the August currently.  Here goes:

Listening: Yes, I am a crazy cat lady! My husband and children gave this to me for Christmas and I love it. It is so quiet in my house this morning that it is the only thing I here. I am loving it!

Loving: I love having things planned and ready to go!

Thinking: I have been on this computer too long to day.

Wanting: We are going on a short vacation the weekend before I go back to work and my oldest heads of to college (for the first time, sniff!). I am so ready to go but don't want to time to go by!

Needing: If I don't get my classroom put together I am afraid I want enjoy our vacation.

1st Day: I am ready and exciting, yet I am not ready!

Don't forget to link up. For a refresher on how to create your own Currently and the three rules check out the post at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jazzier Version of Word Work Activities and New TPT Store

I put together a jazzier version of the word work activities that I shared for Monday Made It this week and created a Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Check them both out at by clicking on the image below:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Techie Tuesday: Technology Tip for the Newbie Blogger

Hello, all! I am linking up at Technology Tailgate for

Yesterday I wanted to link up with Monday Made It hosted by 4th Grade Frolics. I had tweaked some word work games and created some homework menus and wanted to share them. I inserted the links for all of my shared google documents and thought-Wow that looks blah! I decided it would look better with pictures of my documents but wasn't sure how to do that. I new they need to be jpg format to insert them to my post, but wasn't sure how to do that. After a bit of searching I discovered how to convert PDFs to JPGs.  Here are the steps:

1. Download your google document as a pdf. Go to File: Download as: PDF

2. Find an online PDF converter.  I used pdf2jpg.net.

3. Click on Choose a PDF file and find the file you wish to convert. Open the file and then click the Convert PDF to JPG button. 

3. Click download and then proceed to insert your newly created JPG document.  

I also learned as I was putting together this post that hitting command+shift+3 will take a screenshot! You learn something new everyday! Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monday Made It: Word Work Ideas and Homework Menus

I am linking up with.

I was surfing Pinterest looking for ideas to use with my fourth graders during word work time.  I stumbled upon these two ideas from the Monday Made It! host 4th Grade Frolics.  One is Word Work Scrabble and one is Word Work Word's Worth.  I tweaked them a bit and made one of each for spelling and vocabulary. Click on the picture to get a copy.  Enjoy!

 Spelling Word Scrabble

 Spell Word's Worth

 Vocabulary Word Scrabble

 Vocabulary Word's Worth

I also created vocabulary and spelling homework menus which include the above activities.  Click on the pictures to grab a copy. Enjoy!

 Vocabulary Homework Menu

 Spelling Homework Menu

Check out my Word Work board on pinterest to see where I got many of the activities I included on these.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Structure of a Writing Conference

This summer I read "How's it Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers" by Carl Anderson. If you have not read this and need guidance on conferring, I highly recommend it.

One thing I found very helpful in this book was his explanation about how to structure a writing conference.  I took his structure and created a cheat sheet that I placed in my literacy conferring notebook, so that I can refer to it as needed.  Here is the link to it, feel free to use it, share it, or tweak it to fit your needs:


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Technology Projects

I have taken on 2 major technology projects this summer. 

1. Scanning all my classroom library books into booksource classroom organizer:

This is a program where you can use your smart phone or tablet to scan the bar codes of your books and they will be entered into a database on the web. The database can be accessed from any computer. Students search for the book they are checking out by it's name or author in the database and then check it out on the computer. In order to be able to scan the books you have to install the booksource classroom organizer app on your smart phone or tablet. Did I mention that this is free!

So far so good.  I have one box of books left to scan.  I really hope this will make it a bit easier to keep track of my classroom library books. I will let you know how it is working once we get into the swing of things in my classroom.

2. Changing all my bookmarks to Diigo:

Diigo is an app that you can use to organize your internet bookmarks.  One of the features I like about it is that you can mark web articles as read later. So if you want to read them but don't necessarily need to bookmark the page, you can easily access them. You can also highlight things on your bookmark pages and you can type notes on a sticky note on your bookmark pages. Not only do you bookmark your pages but you also give them tags or labels. Then when you are just sure you had a web page bookmarked on how to use a book to teaching good endings, but can't remember the page name, you can search Diigo for various tags or labels to see what you find.  

Have any of you tried either of these sites? I would love feedback on them or suggestions of technology you would recommend!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fourteenth Book Done!

I finished reading my fourteenth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee, Athlete Vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack.  In this story twin brothers, Russ and Owen Evans, seem to have very little in common until the new basketball coach comes to town. He orders Russ the mathlete to try out for basketball and Russ discovers that he likes it!

This was a fun, quick read.  It would make a fun read aloud for third, fourth, or fifth grade classroom. It could easily be used to teach checking for understanding, making predictions, and literary elements.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thirteen Books Done!

I just finished reading my thirteenth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee, "Summer of the Gypsy Moths" by Sara Pennypacker. In this book Stella and Angel have two things in common. One they live with Stella's great-aunt and two they live there because they have no place else to be. The story unfolds with Stella's great-aunt dying. Read to find out how Stella and Angel deal with this and find places to belong. 

This book would work well for teaching theme or main idea and details. Check out the discussion questions provided by the author.

July Currently!

First of all I just have to say that I can't believe it is July, already! That being said I am Linking up with

 Oh' Boy 4th Grade
Oh' Boy Fourth Grade
to do the July Currently.  So here it is:   

Listening: I've never been a big watcher of TV, but I seem to have become addicted to crime scene shows. Three of them in particular and all on TNT: Rizzoli and Isles, Bones, and Castle.

Loving: I'm loving having the time to read and workout. I'm currently reading Frozen Heat by Richard Castle and Words Their Way. I am also reading the Iowa Children's Choice Award Nominees for the 2014-2015 school year. I just finished "Summer of the Gypsy Moths" by Sara Pennypacker. I'm also loving not have to get up at o'dark o'clock to fit in my workout rather it be a run, yoga, or strength training.  

Thinking: I've been thinking about change. My son is headed off to college this fall. We will miss him very much. Family meals will not be the same.  My daughter just turned 16. I sure miss the days when they needed me, but I am very proud of them!

Wanting: I've been fighting shin splints this summer. I would normally have built my mileage up 15-20 miles a week by now. I am hovering around 9-10 miles. I really want to get past this. I'm trying to be patient, I'm not very good at it!

Needing: I'm needing to get past the shin splints, so I can up my mileage and ditch the extra 7 pounds I have put on this summer. I seem to be the queen of grazing: sweet to salt to sweet to salt. Can you say lack of self-control?

Have a Happy Fourth, everyone!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Found Poetry

Found poetry is taking language from a non-poetic context and turning it into a poem.  I first heard about this when I was reading "Poems Waiting to be Found" by Shirley McPhillips, one of the featured writers at the Stenhouse Summer Blogstitute 2014

I decided to give it a try.  The following are the original text I used and my attempts at Found Poetry:  
From Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

The process is all so slow, as dreams are slow, as dreams suspend time like a balloon hung in midair. I want it all to happen now. I want the catcher to appear. I want whatever miracle I am party to, to prosper and grow: I want the dimensions of time that have been loosened from their foundation to entwine like a basketful of bright embroidery threads. But it seems that even for dreams, I have to work and wait. It hardly seems fair.

So s-l-o-w...
Dreams... are… slow
Time                    like a balloon hung in midair
For the dimensions of time to entwine
I have to work... and... wait
So s-l-o-w…

From the Summer of the Gypsy Moth by Sara Pennypacker.

I like to imagine the ties between us as spider silk: practically invisible, maybe, but strong as steel. I figure the trick is to spin out enough of them to weave ourselves into a net.  

Ties between us…
Like strands of spider silk,
Invisible but strong.
Strong as steel.

Weaved into a net.

I hope you feel inspired to try Found Poetry. If so feel free to share your attempts.

To Newsletter or Not?

Every year I debate on rather I am doing a classroom newsletter or relying strictly on my website to keep parents informed.  I am already having this debate. One issue is the creating of a fun layout that does not take forever to create or require me to purchase expensive software. 

I may have found the answer to the issue of how to create a fun and interesting newsletter after attending the Southwest Iowa Google Summit. It is called Lucidpress Layout and Design. It is found at the Chrome Web Store under apps.  

It seems to be a very user friendly way to create a newsletter. Once you have created your letter you have a lot of choices on how you are going to share it. 

You can publish it on the web.  I find this a great option since we are not allowed to print color copies in our building. This way you can make it as fun and colorful as you want and still have people see it. 

You can also share it through the Lucidpress software or you can download it as a pdf and share it through google docs or Doctopus or gClass folders.  

You can also print a hard copy, so that you can send it home with each of the students.  

Here is a practice page I created to experiment with:


Feel free to comment if you still create a newsletter and if you do how do you create and share it. If you don't how do you communicate with your families?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Southwest Iowa Google Summit 2014 Part 2

On Tuesday the keynote speaker was Eric Sheninger, awarding winning principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey. The message I walked away from his speech with was that we have to be willing to change the way we teach. We have to give up control of the learning to the students. We need to make technology available for students to use when it improves the learning. 

The first breakout session that I attending was Using Apps to Help Struggling Students.  I walked away from it with a plethora of resources for helping students with various educational needs.  The speaker showed us how to regulate the reading level of the articles that students are searching and how to increase the size of text on webpages. He showed us apps such as Read and Write Google which will read webpages to students. 

The second breakout session that I attending was What's New in Google Drive. I learned that you can now edit images in docs and slides. I learned about several add-ons that I want to try.  One of them is Avery labels and the other was gMath. In gMath you can create graphs and coordinate planes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Southwest Iowa Google Summit 2014 Part 1

On Monday and Tuesday of this week I attended the Southwest Iowa Google Summit.  Each day there was a keynote speaker and breakout sessions over different features of Google.

On Monday the keynote speaker was Angela Maiers, author of Classsroom Habitudes. The message I walked away from her speech with was that we have tell and show our students that they matter. We have to depend on them to contribute their genius or talent to our classroom. I ordered her book, Classroom Habitudes, and it arrived today. I can't wait to read it.

The first breakout session I attended was Adds-on to Ease the Google Workflow. The two add-ons featured at this session were Flubaroo and Doctopus.  Flubaroo is an add-on that grades and analyzing the results of multi-choice tests. If your district is 1 to 1 this would be a great way to do a quick 2-3 question exit ticket to assess learning. Doctopus is an add-on that allows you to create class roosters and folders, distribute paperless assignments, and receive paperless homework without over loading your shared folder file. 

The second breakout session I attended was Get Organized with gClass. After attending the session I figured at the gClass does basically the same thing as Doctopus as far as creating roosters and folders.  I have not been able to get the send assignment feature of gClass to work.  If I choose to use one of these add-ons it will be Doctopus.  Both of these may become obsolete with the release of Classroom this September!
The third breakout session I attended was The Benefits of Blogging. The instructor was a sixth grade literacy teacher.  He showed how he uses his class blog to communicate with his students and parents. He showed how his students use their blogs to communicate with each other, their parents, and students from other countries.  His students use their blog to post writing and receive feedback about their writing. They also use them to publish their finished writing pieces.  

A great overall resource that I left the Summit with is the following webpage http://www.googlegooru.com/. This webpage is an easy way to access information on how to do all things Google!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Twelve Books Done!

The twelfth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was The PS Brothers by Maribeth Boelts.

This story would work well for teaching literary elements, cause and effect, main ideas and details, and rereading the text.  

On Maribeth Boelts web page she has a question answer section in which she talks about her writing. There is some useful information here that would teach students about the writing process. 

Interesting Find!

While browsing the web one day I stumbled upon an advertisement for the upcoming Stenhouse Summer Blogstitute 2014. I decided to e-mail myself a reminder to check it out as it did not start for a few weeks.  I found the e-mail yesterday and went to check it out.  

So far there are two different posts by authors: The first post is on the teaching of grammar which is by Aimee Buckner ( I read her book Notebook Know How this summer. If you use writer's notebooks in your classroom, you should read it!) The second post is on writing found poems by Shirley McPhillips.  I can't wait to try writing one of these myself and then have my fourth graders try to write them. Not sure what those are here's a link to further information about them:

If you read and leave a comment on the posts you are entered for a chance to win a package of eight books that are written by the authors who are writing the posts for the blogstitute. 

Take a second or two or three and check it out!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Teaching Writing!

I have been reading Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray. This is a great book about teaching kids to be successful at and enjoy writing.  

Part of the process is learning to read books like a writer.  

A topic that appears to be a long ways from both these concepts is that fact that my son challenged me to read Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.  So for those of you who aren't from Iowa and aren't baseball fans this is the book that the movie Field of Dreams was based on back in the 80's. Being from Iowa and actually having visited the Field of Dreams I decided to give the book a try.

Now I feel as if I should say this up front, I am not a fan of baseball.  I can take it or leave it!  That said I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. Not only did I enjoy the story from a reader's point of view, I also discovered some great things to share with my students from a writer's point of view.

I found many examples of how this novel could be used to help teach students about writer's craft. One type of writer's craft that Katie Wood Ray shares in her book is "Super Ellipses". Those are the three dots in a row. They can be used to show continuation, transition, or the lack of words to describe something. On page 14 in Shoeless Joe Kinsella writes: "It must of been... It must of been like..." But I can't find the words.

Writers also use a close echo effect.  This style of writing as described by Katie Wood Ray is when an author repeats words or phrases close together when it is not necessary and creates an echo effect.  On page 25 of Shoeless Joe Kinsella writes: The process is all so slow, as dreams are slow, as dreams suspend time like a balloon hung in midair. 

Now keep in mind you will only share bits and pieces as this is a novel for adults. If your students are interested in the topic here are books that I found that would be appropriate for students to read: Shoeless Joe and Me by Dan Gutman, Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy by Phil Bildner and C.F. Payne, and Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson by David L. Fleitz.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Math Writing Dilemma!

During the last month of school I started the Math Daily 3 in my classroom.  I used these 3 rotations or stations: math by myself, math writing, and math with someone.  

My students enjoyed the new approach to math as did I.  The main problem I had was that math writing was creating a lot of paper work for me to correct. This was not really what I had in mind for this station. So I began searching the Internet for ideas.  I saw several sentence starter ideas.  I found two that I liked and did some combining and changing to create one I like.  

So here it is https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q0Ij8Dx-WxXx7oBswkt0_JrC_Q8ZU_xTStRBHmSFvfA/pub 

Feel free to use it if it works for you or share it with a friend!

Eleven Books Done!

The eleventh Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was Pie by Sarah Weeks.  In this story young Alice loves to spend time with her Aunt Polly at her pie shop.  When Aunt Polly passes away Alice's world is turned upside down.  To make matters even worse Aunt Polly left her famous pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo! Or did she?

This book could help students work on sequencing events, using prior knowledge, cause and effect, setting, character, and theme. The author also includes some readers theaters on her website this could be used to work on many different fluency strategies including reading like the author would to convey meaning. If you are interested in doing an author study or you have a student who is, Sarah Weeks has provided some wonderful suggests on how to begin on her website.  Click on the gold circular emblem that says "Are You Doing an Author Study?" to get started!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ten Books Done!

The tenth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was The Underdogs by Mike Lupica.  The Underdogs is a story of a struggling small town and how in order to save money they are going to discontinue little league football.  Will, a boy with a passion and talent for football, works to save his season.  

There are so many positive themes you could highlight out of this book.  It would also work well for teaching making predictions, character and setting.  

It could be used as a model during a lesson on persuasive writing! Will writes from the heart and well you will have to read to find out what it gets him!

Wonderful Words Wednesday!

If we are to teach students to love words, shouldn't we love words. To learn to love words join me each week in a Wonderful Words Wednesday Linky. Don't forget to link up below and share a wonderful word that you read or wrote this week. Share it's definition and origin. Then please visit the blog in front of you and after you, as a comment use their wonderful word in an inspiring sentence!

My word this week is: Epistolary: written in the form of a letter Novels that are written in epistolary form are listed as epistolary fiction.  

Origin as listed on dictionary.com
1650–60;  < Latin epistolāris  of, belonging to a letter. See epistle-ar1

Wonderful Words Wednesday! photo WonderfulWordsWednesday.jpg

Monday, June 9, 2014

Taking On a Challenge

I found this on twitter:

Powering Up on EdTech This Summer: The 7 Day Challenge

and decided to give it a try.  Here is what I have accomplished so far:

Challenge #1:  Go on a Blog Bender- Done that and continuing to do that.  Found this interesting site, as one place to start checking out blogs:  Teach Make A Difference  Started my own blog several years ago and then just stopped, so I am trying to pick back up again.  

Challenge #2:
I attended Building the Collaborative Classroom Best Practices in Reading and Writing conference.  At this conference I attend six different breakout sessions over a 2 day period.

Day 1 was focused on best practices for teaching reading.
The first session was Getting Started with the Making Meaning Program.  This is the reading comprehension program our district is adapting this fall.  This session was a great introduction to the materials we will be using.
The second session I attending was about small group reading instruction. This session provided me with a good solid review of everything I have read so far about small group instruction.
The thirds session I attended was about conferring during reader's workshop.  I love the basic structure the presenter shared with us to guide us through a conference.  1. Listen-Have them read to you.  2. Think/Decide- What am I going to teach? 3. Teach 4. Try- What skill am I going to challenge them to try during their reading time?

Day 2 was focused on best practices for teaching reading.
The first session I attended was about about assessments in the writing classroom.  I came away with 2 important things from this session. 1 it is very important to not only assess the final product, but to consider the rough draft. You can learn a lot about a writer from this part of the writing process. I also learned that it very important to focus on the data to justify the grade. Sometimes we as teachers get caught up in I know this student can do this, they must of had a bad day.  We need to focus on the data we have and assess it.
The second session I attended was conferring in a writing workshop.  I was excited to see that you can apply the same simple structure that we learned about yesterday in the reading conferring session to a writing conference. Two basic pieces of information that I walked away with were: that conferring allows for differentiation and published pieces will have some developmentally appropriate errors. Conventions are only 1/7 of the 6 +1 traits of writing, so do not over focus on them.
The third session I attending was Getting Started with the Being a Writer Program.  This is the writing program our district is adapting this fall.  I am excited to see that it teachings writing by using quality trade books to model it and it encourages learns to learn about the writing process from writers.  This session was a great introduction to the materials.

I am attending Southwest Iowa Google Summit at the end of June. This conference focuses on integrating technology into the classroom. I will let you know how it goes!

Nine Books Done!

The ninth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. This story addresses the age old theme of growing up.  Specifically that time period of leaving elementary school behind and entering middle school.  In the book it addresses it from Elise's point of view. Elise is a 12 year old girl who is being raised by her aunt and uncle, because her parents are deceased.  She struggles with school, friendship, bullies, and her identity.  Sometimes you want to shake her, sometimes you want to hug her!

This book would be good for teaching character, setting, theme, problem/solution, and using prior knowledge to connect with the text.  

Make sure you check out Suzanne LaFleur's website.  She shares some interesting insight into her writing process, which is so important for writers to see!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Eight Books Done!

I am making progress with my goal of reading all the 2014-2015 Iowa Children's Choice award nominees.  Eight down and nine to go!  

The eighth book I read was The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng.  Make sure you checkout the common core activities created by the author for this book. You can also check out the illustrator, Abigail Halpin's website. In this story Anna, an American Born Chinese girls struggles with fitting in, friendship, and her Chinese heritage.  

This book would work well for teaching summarizing, check for understanding, and back up and reread.  It would also lend itself well to teaching theme.  

I could see this book sparking some interest in China and the Chinese culture.  It might lead students to further research and learning about the Chinese culture.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I am linking up for Wordless Wednesday at

This summer I am reading Wondrous Words by Kate Wood Ray and The Daily 5 by The 2 Sisters.  It is time for some change in my reading and writing instruction.  What changes will you make in your classroom next fall?

Wonderful Words Wednesday!

I have been reading several books about installing a love for reading and writing in students.  One thing I have seen in several books is in order to love reading and writing we need to teach our students to CELEBRATE words.

So in my classroom this fall I am going to implement Wonderful Words Wednesday.  Students will be asked to keep an eye out for wonderful words in their reading and writing.  They will pick one, record its definite and word origin, and bring it to class to share in our community circle on Wednesday.

This got me thinking, if we are to teach our students to love words, shouldn't we love words. To learn to love words join me each week in a Wonderful Words Wednesday Linky. Don't for get to link up below and share a wonderful word that you read or wrote this week.  Share it's definition and origin. Then please visit the blog in front of you and after you, as a comment use their wonderful word in an inspiring sentence!

My word for this week is fascination.  Definition: powerful attraction; charm  Word Origin: 1595–1605;  < Latin fascinātiōn-  (stem of fascinātiō a bewitching. Seefascinate-ion  Definition and word origin found on Dictionary.com. Found in the book Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray.

Wonderful Words Wednesday! photo WonderfulWordsWednesday.jpg

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Seven Books Done!

The seventh Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee I chose to read was Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Inside Out & Back Again is a story of a young girl who left her home in Saigon when the Vietnam War reached her home and moved to Alabama with her family. 

This story would be great to teach students how to create a mental image or picture.  This book contains many interesting words in , so it would be a good text for tuning into interesting words.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

June Currently

I am linking up at 
to do the June Currently.  Here's mine:

REMEMBER to do the rule of 3...
comment on the 2 links ahead of you and the one after you...
PLEASE make sure your comments are about their post and thoughtful

Six Books Done!

The sixth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer. In this story one little boy has a dog and has to give it up, one little boy desperately wants a dog, and one little dog needs a boy.  Read on to find out how the story unfolds.

This story would work well to teach making and adjusting predictions using the text to confirm, cause and effect, problem/ resolution, and theme.  It could also be used to introduce the use of similes.  That said Marion Dane Bauer has created a nice discussion guide and a readers theater script to use with the book.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Part 2 of Classroom Library Reorganization!

 Now to discuss the checkout process in my library.  I had a sign out sheet on a clipboard.  Students remembered to checkout the books, when I reminded them otherwise not so much.  So first solution for that is mini lesson on classroom library prodigal. Here's how I am considering handling this.  My students will have color coded reading response journals.  Their journals will be do on certain days of the week.  The day your journal is due will be your book shopping day.  This will cut down on the number of students in the classroom library and at the checkout computers at any given time. Students will be able to check out 2 books from my classroom library at a time for a 2 week period for their book baskets.  Other books will come from our school library.

 Computers, you say? That is the next mini lesson I will be teaching.  I found this website called Booksource.  They offer a free classroom organizer. When I found the site a year or so ago they offered an app for Apple only. This app scans the bar codes on your books and puts them into a database. You can use that database for your students to check out books via your classroom computers and do a short review upon returning them.  The database will display guided reading level or AR level just to name a few.  This display is customizable by you.  

 Upon revisiting the site on Thursday I was elated to see that they now have an app for Android.  I have began bringing my books home from school, 1 box at a time, to scan them.  My goal is to have them all scanned, so that my database is up and running on the first day of school.  Wish me luck!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Reorganizing My Classroom Library

  Confession time:  My classroom library has always been an entity in my classroom, make that an unused entity in my classroom. After reading The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser, I decided it was past time for this to change. The million dollar question was were to begin?  So I visited The Daily Cafe where I found a video about organizing your classroom library.  It clicked, made total sense.  
  At that time my library was a sad attempt at organizing books according to AR levels.  This organization or lack thereof lead to major frustration on my part, because the books where never were they were supposed to be.  Since no one including myself knew where they were supposed to be, this was not a surprising issue.
 I began making the change by visiting my local dollar store and purchasing plastic baskets.  Then I spent 4 hours sorting out my books by author, topic, or genre and created categories. Some sample categories that I created are Magic Treehouse, Sports, and Beverly Cleary.  I labeled the baskets and matching books with a number and sorted them into their proper place.  
 This all done, my goal is for my library to be the focus entity in my classroom not the unused entity.

Five Books Done!

  The fifth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was The Fast and the Furriest by Andy Behrens. Kevin and his dog Cromwell are classic couch potatoes until Cromwell sees a dog agility contest on TV.  Read on to find out how life changes for Kevin, Cromwell, and their family!
  This book would work well for practicing  identifying cause and effect, summarizing, and identifying main ideas and supporting details.  Students could also compare and contrast beginning of the book Kevin and Cromwell to ending of the book Kevin and Cromwell.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Four Books Done!

   The fourth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was Hiss-s-s-s! by Eric A. Kimmel. Omar wants a snake, but his mom is less than thrilled.  Read to find out how the adventure unfolds and how Omar and mom grow and change from their adventure. 
  Scattered throughout this book are some examples of onomatopoeia.  Other skills you could teach using this book might be make a picture or mental image.  The descriptions of certain events in the book are well written and certainly help the reader create a mental image.  
  I am considering using this as a read aloud in my class.  Our basal has an excerpt from the story Dear Mr. Winston by Ken Roberts and an informational text piece about snakes. I am thinking that I will read this to my class shortly before we get to that story and then we will compare and contrast the two fiction stories and use the nonfiction along with those to look at author's purpose. 
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Three Books Down

  The third Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee I chose to read was Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. William and Elinor's father left for "a while".  Their mom decides to cope by adopting four dogs and a cat.  Their new "family" members help them see how important they are to each other.
  This story would be a good fit for many skills off the CAFE menu. The fact that it contains some illustrations makes is work for the skill cross checking.  It would also work for students working on summarizing, identifying literary elements, and voracious reading.

Two Books Down

  The second Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee I chose to read was The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki. Neil and Bree are spending the summer with their aunts, who just happen to live by an abandoned, haunted state hospital named Graylock. Being typical kids Neil and Bree go explore Graylock. This is when the spooky twists and turns of the book begin to appear. 
  This story would be a good fit for students working on any number of skills of the CAFE menu.  Here are a few I thought would work well with it:  making predictions, inferring, asking questions as you read, and identifying literary elements.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

One Book Down!

  I began working on my goal of reading the Iowa Children's Choice Award nominees with the book Hold Fast by Blue Balliet.
       This is a fast, moving mystery about a father who disappears and his family who ends up living in a homeless shelter.  The story unfolds as Early Pearl, the daughter of the missing man,works to solve the mystery and bring her father home. 
  Shortly into the book, I decided to use it as my first chapter book read aloud in August. Upon making this decision I consulted my copy of the Iowa Core, the Daily 5 and The CAFE Book to see what skills I could use this book to teach.
  First off this book is filled with the love of words. Each chapter begins with a highlighted word or two which the author shares the origin and definition of the highlighted words with the reader. This makes it a great way to introduce your class word collector and the skill tune into interesting words.  
  To go along with this I am thinking about doing Wonderful Word Wednesday. Each Wednesday we would begin our day sharing in our community circle any wonderful words we have found in our reading during the prior week. This idea is not completely original, I saw a similar idea but can not recall where I saw it!
  There are any number of spots in this story where you could use the check for understanding and backup and reread skills. This book could also be used to teach using prior knowledge. You could read the inside of the front cover and discuss the genre. Then have students share what they know about the mystery genre. You could discuss what you and your students know about the author. For information about the author check out her website "Blue Balliet"  After reading page 5, you could have students share with an elbow partner what experience they have had with family pictures.  These are just a few ideas for teaching skills using Hold Fast.  If you have others chime in!  

Summer Goals

  One of my goals this summer is to read the Iowa Children's Choice Award nominees for the 2014-2015 school year.
  Being a fan of Blue Balliet's book Chasing Vermeer, I decided to start with Hold Fast.  I am almost finished. When I am finished I will do a short review and share some ways I think it could be used to introduce those early comprehension skills from the CAFE menu.