The Power of a Bulletin Board

We all want a welcoming classroom. Even if you are a teacher that doesn’t “care” about how the classroom looks- you still somewhat care. Teachers are always looking for ideas for bulletin boards and there was something I learned about myself and bulletin boards. Well actually there was a few things.

  1. I don’t LOVE putting them up.
  2. I LOVE making motivational bulletin boards.
  3. I want here to a message that will go with the bulletin board.

It may sound silly but these are some things that I really needed to learn about myself when it came to bulletin boards. Last year, I put up a bulletin board in my classroom and it looked like below:

I believe in you! bulletin board

I put this up around diagnostics time and I knew that those 4 words were already making a difference. I looked at students work and almost every student somewhere in the test wrote the word “believe.” I never specifically harped on the bulletin board and I just put these words up. These words really seemed to hit home for kids that I never thought needed it. That was when I realized that kids have things going on that we have NO idea about. So how could I come up with other ones? Well I created the “smarter” bulletin board and honestly- I was surprised by how the kids reacted.

1st Graders would tell me that they were super smart because the “wall” told them. Students from 5th grade would constantly read the bulletin board. Not only was it something super simple to do but it made a difference. The words were motivators for students to do their best and honestly…to believe in themselves. The sad part about this post is that this may be one of the only times in a while that someone actually believes in a specific student. You never know who your bulletin board can affect and can make their day better. Your words mean something and I know that a positive message on a bulletin board can really make a difference. So here is my question for you…will you go and change your bulletin board to encourage your students?

Choosing a Read Aloud

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A lot of people ask me- how do you select a read aloud. It is not an easy task and there is quite a bit of criteria that should go into selecting your read aloud.

When I select a read aloud, I make sure I only look at books that are a year ahead of where they need to be at the current time. Here is how it works. They come into 5th grade reading on a level S (IF they are on grade level). I still do a year ahead even if some are behind grade level. If it is August and when they enter Grade 5 they should be reading a Level S- in a year August- they should be reading on level V. The books I select are one year in advance so it’s a level U or V. As the year progresses- I move through the levels. Now- this is how my district wants it. I don’t agree with the leveling system but this is how we have to do it.

In addition to one year ahead- I like to make sure I hit every single genre throughout the year. It is a really hard task (especially with nonfiction) however- if you look you will find. I search for a long time finding books that will go with a theme. They aren’t always a cohesive book with the theme however- the chapter book (read aloud) ALWAYS goes with the mini-lessons.

The last thing I do is I read the book. It sounds silly but I have met several teachers that looked at me like I was crazy when I said I read the book before hand. There are several reasons why.

  1. If I don’t like it- the kids probably won’t either.
  2. If I don’t read it-how will I know the skills to tackle?
  3. If I don’t read it- how will I know what happens (like the good parts?)

It is super important that you read the books. I have heard of GREAT books and then when I read it- I can’t get into it. Or…they are written as poems and that’s too hard for them to understand. OR there is cursing or using inappropriate language. It’s always best that you read the books first.

Just to recap- here are my top 3 things to do when selected a read aloud.

  1. Level it a year above where they need to be.
  2. Choose multiple genres throughout the year
  3. Read it yourself.

What are some tips that you may have? Leave a comment below so others can see great ideas!

Planning my TpT Life

I have had so many people tell me that I have my life together. I replied simply with 2 words- I don’t. I am fair from having it together. Unfortunately that’s one of the sides of social media right? We only have to show you the good. We don’t have to show you the bad.

Here is what you don’t see behind the camera:

  1. My work area is my kitchen table. I have a desk but I feel lonely there so I don’t use it. My table is a mess and we have 3 lovely spots for us to eat our meal. The rest may or may not be covered with TpT things.
  2. My kids clothes aren’t all put away.
  3. Our dresser is still in my son’s bed room- we redid the carpet in our bedroom (3 months ago) and haven’t moved it back yet.
  4. I forget to schedule my Instagram posts.
  5. I never remember to do my facebook posts.
  6. I hired someone to do my Pinterest account-sooo take that off my plate.
  7. I could keep going. However, this list is already stressing me out.

What you need to understand is that my life is not all together. Behind closed doors- it’s a mess. (Isn’t everyone’s at some point?)

Last month, I created a planner. It is a simple but strategic planner for TpT sellers. It’s honestly- how I keep my ish together. The planner is broken down by small sections.

Part 1- It has all of the important social media dates and a way to keep track of your social media data.

Part 2- Products from Start To Finish guide

Part 3- Monthly Calendar from January to December

Part 4- Monthly product idea page and monthly blog about it page

Part 5- Monday through Sunday planning pages- BUT the best part is that each day it has a daily task for you. The daily social media tasks are already written in for you. For example, every Monday is schedule all of your facebook posts. Each day is something else.

I did go to Office Depot and have it printed in black and white- front to back with a spiral bound for only $20.00

This has been a game changer for me and you won’t regret it. Want to purchase this now? You can head right to my TpT store and purchase it! Happy Planning!

Non fiction Books for 5th Graders;

Have you searched forever and a day for a nonfiction book to use with your\ 5th graders but you somehow never find just the right thing? That’s me every time we start nonfiction. Last year, I made it my mission to find nonfiction books that hit each and every skill.

I knew that almost ALL fifth graders knew almost all different types of text features. I didn’t want to harp on that. I felt that the context was so much more important than just the features. Don’t get wrong-the features are important. However, by 5th grade the content/structure is even more important.

This nonfiction book has been amazing to use. We actually spend an entire week really diving into this book. We don’t just skim the surface but we compare and contrast like crazy!

This book also relates to some of this Social Studies [Social Science] standards too. 😜 This book is called George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer.

Here’s how I use this book.

Step 1- I take all of their knowledge about George Washington and list it. The kids have some prior knowledge about the King of England and will list some of this as well. I usually make a KWL chart with them.

Step 2-we read it. We don’t read the entire thing but we start by comparing their lifestyle which is the beginning of the book.

Step 3- then we compare how they both have ruled and any other pieces that may apply.

Step 4- we then take all of that information and will create a summary comparing the two leaders I start off with little pieces and then will build from there to compare.

This is just one of the many books I use in my classroom to teach nonfiction -text structure- compare and contrast. What books do you use to teach compare and contrast?

Guided Math Unit 2

A little bit ago, I blogged all about Guided Math Unit 1. Well- it’s time for unit 2 now! Unit 2 is all about that Division Life. It’s a hard life- but here we are.

When you start with the unit – you will see the lesson that goes with each day. The lesson names are listed below.Slide1.png

Each of the lessons comes with a lesson plan. It has the I can statements, standards, materials needed, and the whole group lessons. Under the whole group lessons, you will find small group lessons. All of the small group activities are provided for you. No longer do you have to search the small group activities anymore. What about a way for remediation or above level? Those lessons are provided for you. You can now work with your low group and build them up to on level.

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Each of the lessons within the unit has classwork to go with each of the lesson. Want to get mini-assessments without doing the actual tests? There is an exit ticket for each of the lessons. Each lesson also comes with homework that you can assign.

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This has really been a life saver for me. All you have to do is print and go! It really is a quick and simple unit for teachers. It recently received an upgrade and all of the worksheets, lesson plans, small groups, really everything is split up now! It makes it even more user friendly for you! Want to purchase unit 2? Click on any of the pictures and it will take you directly to my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Guided Math In 5th Grade

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Y’all- I can’t tell you how many times teachers have asked me if its okay for fifth grade to do Guided Math. The answer is YES!!!

When you think of Guided Math think of it is as a way to see your students each and every day. This is a great way to structure rotations through your classroom so you can see each and every one of your students. [Discloser- You will not see each of your students every day!]  If you need help with Guided Math – leave me a message and I will for sure answer it. However, I want to get to the unit.

When I started fifth grade, I was wigging out that there was no Guided Math for fifth grade. Everyone has stuff for k-2 but nothing for fifth. So what did I do? I created my own units. These units are made for entire year.

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It started these units with the standards in mind and I really unpacked them for you so you don’t have to. The only thing I did not include in the lesson plans was the scale. I wanted you to be able to use them as you see fit. Below is what a typical lesson plan looks like.

On top of the lesson plans, you will get two worksheets to use as class work. Two pages will also be homework.

Are you tired of giving one grade based off of one assessment? Yeah- me too. I also included exit tickets as well. There is one for each lesson and it keeps it super simple. Below is an example of the classwork, an exit slip, and homework.

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On top of that, you will be provided with all small group activities. No longer will you have to create anything extra. All your small group lessons are done for you- and all you have to do is print and go!

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Are you interested in these 4th and 5th grade Guided Math Units? Click here to go to my store!

If you have any questions, leave them below!!

Write me a letter…

A lot of people say that writing a letter is a lot art. It’s true. We don’t teach our kids to do it, therefore, this generation won’t do it. They will send text messages. However, text messages can only get us so far.

I recently became a [chromebook] one to one classroom and I was stumped about what to do. I really was like “COOL!!! Technology is awesome! Now what?” I didn’t know how to start incorporating this into my classroom.

I knew I wanted the kids to write letters to me about their book. Last year, I had them write it in their journal and I genuinely enjoyed it. This year, we are writing it in our reading response journal in our Google Classroom. It’s super simple and will take about 30 seconds to activate and get the kids writing. 😍 can you say #timesaver?

I started this last week and it’s safe to say…I’m obsessed! I look forward to making more Google Classroom activities! Want to purchase the reading responses? Click the picture! ❤️

IGTV or YouTube?

Hi Guys… I have committed to a few months of IGTV. It is kind of amazing.

Setting this up has been hard but I absolutely love it. For right now… I am committing to 3 days a week.

I also am hoping to get a lot of friends to join our channel so we can talk teacher business just for all of you!

Why did I decide to work with IGTV instead of YouTube? Well- IGTV is more user friendly. My goal is to be able put all videos on YouTube but I record everything vertical and YouTube is kind of against that. However, I will try!!

Check out my InstagramTV by going right to my profile and clicking IGTV! You can also click the picture below and it will take you directly to my Instagram!

See you there!

Fairy Tales in Fifth Grade

A lot of people have asked me about Dive Into Reading and WHY I decided too create this awesome product. Well, I had a goal to expose my students to as many genres as I possibly could. This has been two years in the making and my scores show it. However, I don’t want this to be a scores post. I want this to be a post that tells you how to step out of your comfort zone and give your students what they need!

First of all, fairy tales is such a fantastic way to start the year. It not only is a great topic but it also allows the kids to remember great memories that they had with their parents or growing up. Albert Einstein said “If you want your child to be in intelligent, read them fairy tales.” This is one of the reasons why I decided to make the first units all about Fairy Tales.

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Fairy tales are a fantastic way to open a door to so many different books. One thing I learned about 5th graders is that they want to read fairy tales but may be embarrassed. Setting this up in the beginning of the year allows the kids to read some AMAZING fairy tale books like The Wishing Spell. Note: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you choose to make a purchase through one of the links, which helps keeps my blog running effectively.”

When the students reread fairy tales- they are able to read fractured fairy tales that are more on their level. I am all for picture books and I am all for opening their eyes to new books and new genres. Other books that you may want to add to your classroom library during the “fairy tale” unit are listed in my Amazon Store!

Now I bet you are all wondering how do I incorporate more of this in my reading block? Well to start off  I know what I want to teach and then I search for the books. I focus on the skill that is going to be targeted and then I search. The search process takes HOURS. Lucky for you- you don’t have to search very hard for the books. You can just purchase them at the link and then use the Dive into Reading Units to guide your lessons.

In this Dive Into Reading Unit you will get so much help in your reading block. In the Unit 1 – Dive Into Reading you will get 20 days worth of reading lessons along with 20 days of read aloud questions. The lessons are already done for you and all you have to do is purchase the book that correlates with the lesson. The lessons are progressive and you will move through all the standards over the year.

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Not only do you get 20 lessons for a month but you also get 20 days worth of questions for the read aloud. You will be provided with questions to ask to the class, turn and talk questions, and even read aloud questions. The read aloud questions can be put onto Avery labels and printed for the kids. **helpful hint- tell the kids to put their finger in the air when you are passing it out to save some time for you!**  I also put in there a template that you can use to print on post it notes so you can have all of the questions at your finger tips. These questions go from lower to higher order questions.

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 The Dive Into Reading has saved my life. When I am stressed or worried or have an impromptu observation- you know what I do? I rely on my questions. I rely on Dive Into Reading lesson plans and questions. These lessons and questions have saved my life and my time more than you will ever know. I no longer stay late after school because all of the questions are done for me. I no longer worry what I am going to have to teach the next week because it is done for me! If you are looking for a way to reduce your stress and have effective reading lessons you can go to my TeachersPayTeachers Store.

Hugs & High-fives,
Ronnie

Guided Math Notes

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Have you been told you need to get your math lesson down to fifteen minutes because you have to see your lowest 25% every…single…day?

Don’t worry. Me too.

I was told that I need to get my math block into concise rotations which lead to my love of Guided Math (scroll down to read about that). I was also told I need to see my lowest 25% of my students. In case you don’t have it, it’s the lowest 25% of the ENTIRE grade and you have a certain amount of students that fall into that lowest 25%. You have to see every one of your reading and math lowest 25% every day. A normal classroom has about 8-10 of their students that they HAVE to see. This year… I have 16 out of my 24 kids that fall under the lowest 25%.

What in the world was I going to do? I was practically in tears when I found out. I had no idea how I was going to make sure I saw ALL of my kids every day in math and make sure they also took notes. Have you seen how SLOW they write? They are like sloths.

They are S…L…O…W…

Like I want to scream that they move so slow. So I finally figured out how they can take notes, practice with me PLUS practice on their own! That’s when my newest baby was born. I was freaking out that it would take them SOOO long to take notes so I ended up creating a template to guide the entire note taking process.

This is how A Teacher’s Wonderland Guided Math Notes were created.

These notes were a life saver. I honestly would say that they took 20 – 30 minutes in the beginning of the year. That’s not including glue time. These notes don’t have ANY foldable parts, it’s literally cut and place. There’s nothing to it.

In the beginning it did take a long time. However, after about 3 weeks it all synced up and they got into the flow of the classroom. Of course, once we get past unit 7 it’s smooth sailing because it’s really not hard concepts.

What does each page entail?

It has any vocabulary words that need to be identified. It also has a teacher part (I do) and then there’s a part to do as a class (we do) and then the students do the last few parts with a partner. There is also a section where the students can evaluate themselves and see what level they are on. They also can have partners check their work and initial that they checked. I like this part because it holds the partner and themselves accountable.

Yes- it’s awesome but let me tell you some of my dirty secrets. Last year- by December when we took district diagnostics- my students were at 47% gains. That’s not fantastic. I did not take any math notes last year. I don’t remember what I ended up as gains last year, but I know it was was less than 80%. This year by the time that I got to my December diagnostics I was at 79% in gains. That’s a crazy increase. I feel that this year I am such a stronger teacher because I have the notebook to refer back to. Another secret? I have to refer back to the notes as well. Not every day BUT when we do spiral work I sometimes need to look back and refer back to it. It’s also great because when the students struggle, I can tell them- go back and check Unit so and so to remind yourself HOW to do it. It’s not that they don’t know the skill- it’s that they forgot the procedure.

I did finish the entire series for fifth grade! I am in the middle of 4th grade so 4th Graders bare with me.

If you are looking for the 5th Grade Guided Math Notes click here! I am telling you that you won’t regret it and you will see those test scores go up.

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