Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Show and Tell Tuesday- Room Arrangements PLUS New Teacher Blog Tuesday Feature!!

We are joining up with Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade for Show and Tell Tuesday!  This week, it's all about classroom arrangements!!

Bear with me, we had conferences yesterday and today, so it's been a little hectic.  :O)

Welcome to my classroom!!  This is what you'd see when you first walk in!

Next up, the view from the other side.
I LOVE my carpet space.  You can see that I have the desks shoved over and back so that I have that huge space at the front of my room.  I know it looks cramped for a desk space but my students are really only in their seats for morning work and tests.  Otherwise, they are on the carpet for whole group, at my small group table, or on the floor doing games/centers.

As I have said before, I like them up close and personal when I am teaching so I can make sure they are paying attention!!

In this picture, you can see my library at the front right corner of the room- books sorted by reading level.  The student computer station is connected to the projector for us to use to show video clips, games, and using the Mimio.  You can also see my little table that I sit at to use the document camera.
The drawers are full of student materials- notecards, dry erase markers, crayons, glue, scissors, clipboards, highlighters, etc.  They have easy access!  And of course, the carpet space that I love!!

 The final view of the front of the room. 
And, here's my space.  Yikes.  It looks a mess!  Sorry, but you're not judging, right??  We stack the pillows back here, out of the walking path.  Here's another table in front of my desk that I have my paper-cutter on, my WONDERFUL pencil sharpener, and drawers for notebook and writing paper.  
And, a close up of the mess!  But here's how I get to Stacia in a flash, which I love!!  ( I think I have too much stuff!!)

This is next to the door from the hallway.  We use the buckets to hold all of our language arts materials (reading journal, grammar journal, writing journal, and word study journal).  We ran out of space in our desks and this way, when they come to the carpet, they have everything in their bucket and they don't have to go back and forth to their desk.  Everything is right there at their hands.  When we aren't doing language arts, their buckets sit here.  

Last, but not least, here's a view from standing at the front of the room, facing back.  Here's my small group table and easel   It's nice to have the sink.  We also have a bathroom which we use as a small storage room because we don't allow the students to use it.  I LOVE that I can hide junk in there.  But really, I have two tall metal cabinets in there and a shelf that has all of my math manipulatives on it.  It's nice to be able to keep it out of the way and open up some space.  

So, I hope you enjoyed your visit to my classroom!  Let me know if you have any questions!  I really like the layout and I haven't changed it all year.  I've moved student seats, but I've kept the arrangement.  And when I like something, and it works, it doesn't change!!  (Yes, I can be flexible, but why change something that works?!?)  :O)

Head over and check out other arrangements of classrooms!  I love seeing how everyone else sets up their classroom!!

A HUGE THANK YOU to Dana from Fun in 1st Grade for featuring us today on her cutie blog!!  She is so sweet to feature new bloggers every week!!  If you haven't checked out her blog, please head over and do so!  I know you will love her blog just as much as we do!!

New Teacher Blog Tuesday

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cupid Definitely Shot Me with Some Kind of Arrow Valentine's Week

Ok, so I know Valentine's Day was over a week ago, but since pure CRAZINESS ensued, I'm only just now getting the time to share what went on that week.

I thought I was doing good, maybe a little ahead, but nope.  It caught up with me.  

First off, on the 13th, my littlest turned 2!!!  2!!!  Ahhhh!!  My baby isn't going to be a baby much longer!!  :O(

On the 14th, my husband had a birthday (I won't share his age) :O).  Yep, he's a Valentine baby!  (LOVE him!!)

If you read our post about Monday Made It, you saw this, and I'm sure you are wondering if it won or not (it's ok if you forgot about it, just go with it!)
My daughter knew I posted it on my blog and that everyone loved it, so that made her feel really good!!  (She knows all about blogging because she watches Dog with a Blog on Disney channel.  Yes, I am a teacher and I allow my child to watch TV.  At least she learned something so that makes it educational, right?  Ahem.)

Anyway...she was feeling pretty good going into the competition because of such wonderful feedback from you all.

Well, my daughter's box did NOT win!!!  Can you believe it???  Out of, like, 8 categories it did not win anything!!  She came in my classroom at dismissal time and said, "I didn't win anything!" (she was pretty upset)  and I said, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" and my kiddos in my class said, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?"

Then they told her they thought she totally should have won!!  Then, I took the box, with her, into Stacia's class and asked how many of her students would have voted for her box to win (I was trying to boost her ego a little) and they all said they thought she should win!  A group of her students even came in my room a little later to tell her that they didn't know WHAT those 3rd graders were thinking!!  It made her feel a ton better.  Plus, it matches her bedroom and she loves it.  She even asked if she could use it next year, so I think she's good now.  

This is what I gave my kids for Valentine's Day:

They each got a sock monkey (there's a red one to the right that you can't see) and the little can of treats.  :O)

I gave something similar to my coworkers:

I do realize that everyone does not love York Peppermint Patties as much as me, and I was being selfish by giving MY favorite candy away, but everyone seemed to like them.  :O)

Now, onto the CUH-RAZINESS of Valentine's Day at school.

We are not supposed to have V-day parties in 4th grade.  Well, we do a schoolwide reward system of giving compliments to classes, and when a class gets all of their "letters" (by getting compliments through the halls, etc.) they get a treat of some kind.  So...I decided to have our compliment party on V-day so we could kinda have a V-day party but call it a compliment party.  You with me so far?

So, I had 2 parents that were going to come in at 9:15 to help me set up because we were going to do hot cocoa and cupcakes while the kids passed out their Valentines around 9:30.

Who walks in my door at 9:00 to do my unannounced, formal observation?  My principal.  Yep.  ON VALENTINE'S DAY JUST BEFORE I HAD PARENTS COMING TO SET UP FOR A PARTY I WASN'T TECHNICALLY SUPPOSED TO HAVE!!

Oh boy.

So, I was teaching small group math, how to simplify fractions, and of course, it was my lowest group that I had pulled and they were struggling.  I was also in the floor with them because my small group table was covered in Valentine's stuff.  So...yeah.  She comes in with her laptop and sits on the floor with us and starts her evaluation.  At this point, I just pray it goes well and that the parents coming in won't be a huge distratction.

The rest of my class was doing fraction games on the floor, and they did really well (thank goodness!).  My parents ended up being late and the first one didn't come in until about 9:30, so that was good.  Overall, it went well.  

But really?  A formal observation right before our Valentine's Day Compliment party?  Ugh.  It could have gone a lot worse.  I'm just glad it's over!

So, onto the party.  Here is a picture of the goods from our hot cocoa "bar":
Mini chocolate chips, marshmallows, whipped cream (not pictured), and fun marshmallow sticks they could stir with.  We also had mint sticks they could stir with, too.

Oh, AND one of my students used all of his punch cards (my reward system in the classroom) to buy a movie and popcorn party, so we had tons of popcorn popped as well.

(And my roomom got me that pretty hydrangea too!!  How sweet!)
Here are the cupcakes.  They were so yummy.  I have a student with a red-dye allergy and so her parents often make stuff so that she can eat the treats.  I had NO idea how many things have red-dye in them, especially that aren't even red!

So, after all of that craziness, we went camping to celebrate the 2 birthdays from the week.  Of course, it was the coldest weekend in GA when we went, but we enjoyed our 4-day weekend by the campfire!  It was all about making memories with the family!  Sometimes, you just have to have a break and we definitely needed it!!  Hopefully, my kids will remember this time together for many years to come!

If you hung in there, and read all of this, BLESS YOU!!  Do you think my week was as crazy as I think it was?  Maybe I'm being dramatic?  ;O)

Have a fantastic weekend!

Also, our friend Jess at I {Heart} Recess is having her 100 followers giveaway!  Go check it out!!  There are some great prizes!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sometimes Teachers Need a Hallpass

It's definitely that time of year.  Everyone is feeling the crunch.  So much to do in so little time.  At least, that's how I feel.  Anyone else with me??

Kids are feeling the crunch too.

Sometimes they need a break.  And you know they do it.  They tell you they need to use the restroom but really they just needed to get up and take a breather for a minute.  Maybe walk slowly to restroom, play in the water fountain- really, who knows (or wants to) what they are doing sometimes.  Sometimes, teachers might wish they could take a hallpass for a breather!  So, here is our hallpass (breather) from the stress of this time of year!

(We are joining up with Reagan at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits for her Hallpass Linky!!)

P= My favorite product.  That's hard.  Every product is a labor of love.  I guess I would have to say my most recent make:

I've already put these up in my room and gone over them with my students and they are pasted in their math journals.  The kids (and I) love them!!  They are so fun to look at.  I sometimes catch the students staring at them.  My hope is that they are reading them but they are probably just thinking how cute the superheros look (like I find myself doing) but it's ok!!  They are pretty cute!  ;O)

A= Favorite Area:  A lot of people are putting their library or their teacher space, but this is my favorite area:

This is the front corner of my room.  I love for my room to feel open, and that's pretty hard with 30 student desks.  I have pushed all the desks towards the back of the room and the sides so there is a huge open floor space at the front.  I'm big on having the kids come to the floor.  If I'm teaching, I want them up front and center with me, engaged.  If they are at their desks, they are often distracted, playing in their desks, reading, and just seem so far away.  So, we do most of our learning on the floor, or at my small group table (which means they are doing centers or games on the floor).  Yes, they are big 4th graders, but if I can sit on the floor, so can they!!  I also LOVE the window.  This space extends behind where I am standing taking the picture, so they can also sit and look at the board (which is to the left) and be ready to use the Mimio.  I love having them up with me while I am teaching!  (You can also see my library to the left of the window and my math posters at the top right!)  :O)

S-  Signal:  I used to use a bell.  I've been known to flick the lights.  This year I learned about whole brain teaching (if you don't know what that is, google it and watch some YouTube videos and you'll get the idea- I think it's great!).  So, we do the 

"Oh claaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaass?" me.
"Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees?"  them.

"Classity claaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaass?"  me.
"Yesitty yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees?"  them.

etc.  It has worked really well.  But honestly, my kids are so well trained (and that's partly because maybe they are older) and they just know what is about to happen and they just go ahead and transition.  It's been really nice!!  (which is not the case every year, believe me!)

S-  Sanity:  How do I keep sane?  Hmmmm.  Am I sane?  I'm not sure.  I think my students sometimes think I'm not.  ;O)  

Chocolate keeps me sane!

And when I really need it:

(Skinny Peppermint Mocha in case you were wondering)

But most of all, being able to share my stresses and successes with my teacher buds, especially Stacia.  Our rooms connect through a door by my desk and we are constantly opening the door and supporting each other whenever we need it.  I don't know how I'd do it without her!!

So, when you are stressed and it's THAT time of year, give yourself a hallpass.  Step out and take a few minutes to collect yourself.  We all need it!!  (and go link up so we can see YOUR hallpass!  And if you don't blog, tell us what YOUR hallpass would be!!)

Happy Friday,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Friday Freebie- Inferencing using Context Clues

Hey there!

I just wanted to share something that I made this week while we were working on some non-fiction reading. We were working on using context clues for words that we come across and we don't know the meaning.  At this age, some kids will stop and try to figure out the words, while others will just skip right over it and keep reading, possibly losing some of the meaning of what they are reading.

I wanted to give them a strategy that they could use when they come across one of those words that they are unsure about.  Here it is!

Students fill in the word that they don't know.  Sometimes authors give the meaning of the word within the sentence and sometimes they don't.  So, they look for clues to help them.  They use clues to try to infer the meaning from the passage.  

These clues could include:
the meaning in parentheses
the meaning after a comma
the meaning in context
the meaning by reading the sentence before or after the word

Sometimes, there are no clues.  Then they write none.

They copy the sentence from the passage (just so they can see it written correctly in context).  If they don't feel that they have inferred the correct meaning, they can then look it up in the dictionary and write the correct meaning under that column.  Then, they can illustrate it (if it's possible) to help them remember the meaning.

Then, once the chart is full, they can choose a word that they would like to make a poster about.  They write the word, the sentence from the passage, and then create their own sentence.  They can illustrate it in the big box, or illustrate the sentence if the word is too hard to illustrate.

We worked on this for an entire reading segment, together, and it was a looooong process.  But, my students readily admitted to many words they didn't know (which actually surprised me- that they admitted it AND some of the words I thought they would know but they didn't).  It broke up some of the meaning of the article we were reading having to stop for each word, but wouldn't it have broken up the meaning if they didn't know what the words meant???  So, we'll finish going through the words they don't know, and then we'll reread the article for fluency and comprehension.  Hopefully, by then, it will make a ton of sense to them!!

To download, click the first page at the top or here.

I hope you find this helpful!!  If you download it, let me know what you think!  I hope I explained it well enough!  (Sometimes things in my head don't makes sense when they come out!)  ;O)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Show and Tell Tuesday- Favorite Read Alouds


We have totally been MIA this past week and weekend.  Did you notice?  (If you didn't, will you just tell us you did to make us feel good?)  ;O)

I'll save what we've been up to for another post because I have pictures and it doesn't go with Show and Tell Tuesday so I'll just leave you in suspense...

Anywho- We are joining Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade for 

This Tuesday's topic- Favorite Read Alouds!

When I first saw the topic, I was like, "Yaaaay!"  and then that quickly changed to, "Oh noooooooooooooo!"

Here's why- I can't choose. 

Actually, I go blank when I try to.  It's scary.


I HATE when they throw that out as an ice breaker question in teacher workshops because I become very panicky. 

How do I choose just one?!?!?!

So, I won't.  

Choose just one, that is...

Here are a few of our favorite picture books:

(This is one of my very favorite books ever...because-  It's the first book my dad bought for me when I was in college to be a teacher [he and I went to Barnes and Noble and I wanted to get it to use for a lesson and he bought it for me] and because it reminds me of my grandmother who passed away from Alzheimer's while I was in college, studying to be a teacher.  I read it at the beginning of every year and we make memory bags that we paste into our writer's notebooks.  I LOVE it- even though it makes me want to cry every year!)

(We have a cute back to school unit that goes with this book- click here to check it out)

(I love all of the books about Skippyjon Jones- I use it to teach voice in writing- and it's just fun to read with the accent!)

(I use these for persuasive/opinion writing- and I don't care that they've already heard this story every year- I still reread it and they still love it.  I have a unit that goes with both of these books and you can click here to see it.)

(I love this book because, first of all, you get to talk like you have no teeth, and second, it's a great way to teach leads since it begins with dialogue but I also use it as an example of great writing for mystery)

(This is a fun book for teaching memoirs or diary entries- and it's just cute.)

(Stacia loves this book because it shows kids that you should never judge by appearances- it's what's inside that matters and you should give everyone a chance.)

(This is such a cute book and it has great figurative language!!  We usually use this around October and we have the students make their own monsters!  It's sooooooo cute!)

(This book is special to Stacia because it shows us that we need to stay true to who we are- we don't have to follow the crowd- and that each of us has a unique gift to share.  It's okay to be different and that's what makes our class strong- we have different gifts to share!)

(Stacia and I both LOVE this book!!  We have used it as an intro for response to literature because most kids have had a pet run or have seen a neighbor's pet run.  This book reminds me of my dogs so I LOVE it!!)

Here are a few of our favorite chapter books:
(I read it originally because it's by Andy Griffith but it's REALLY funny and clever and the kids loved it!)

(Perfect for an October read aloud- the kids get hooked and she has a bunch of "scary" stories that the kids can read once they realize they like this author!)

(All I have to do is read one chapter of this book and they are begging for more!)

(Super fun book!  I love Kate DiCamillo, can you tell?!)

(I love this series and I usually start with this one, and that's all it takes- then they want to read them all.  That's what I love about a series.  Kids will judge a book by it's cover and it's up to me to show them that they might just like it if they give it a chance!  I read one out loud and let them tackle the rest in independent reading!)

(Another great series!!)

(Another series of books I picked up because it's by Henry Winkler...a.k.a...the Fonz... but it's also very clever and funny and just fun to read!  The boys seem to like this series!)

(I like this as a guided reading group book- last year my students took parts and read it- it was really cute.  The book is set up from each student's different perspective and I like for them to see that.  And, there's a sequel.)

Ok, so these are just a few.  I can't really list them all because you would never want to sit here all night and read it!  I can't wait to see what everyone else puts as their favorites!  I love learning about new books!!  (I am a bookaholic, after all!!)  

Click the button above for Show and Tell Tuesday so you can check out everyone's posts about their favorite read alouds!!

But, before you do, comment and tell me YOUR favorite read aloud (it's hard, isn't it!?!)

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