Five for Friday

We posted our first Dive into Reading!!!! 

I finished my Guided Math for fifth grade! 

W learned how to use multiple objects to help him walk.

We went swimming twice!
Lastly…I watched the first five episodes of Orange is the new black. 
What a week!!

September Dive Into Reading

Hey everyone!
I would like to formally introduce you to my friend Sarah! Sarah and I are great friends and we have created an amazing product for you! Last year, when I came back from maternity leave I was a mess in so many ways. One of the big ways was that I never felt successful as a teacher. I feel like I was barely keeping my head above the water. I needed something to use in my classroom for reading so I could just print the lesson plans, any vocabulary words, and the crafts and be DONE! This is how Dive Into Reading began. 

We are creating all of these units for every grade but bare with us. We are starting with first grade and then up to fifth grade. What does each unit entail?

I wanted to add some pictures as well you get a really good idea of what comes in each unit!
****This unit will be posted on Wednesday, June 15th****
We are so proud of this that we are actually giving away the entire first unit! 
Sign up below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Evaluations 2.0

Hey ya’ll!

I’m so excited to show you slight improvements to my original post about Evaluations. If you want to read the previous post click here
I made some minor changes to the system. As I’ve become a better teacher, my products have become slightly better. The concept itself remained the same. I still found it extremely useful to keep them as circles and to have an evaluation on each side. One side showed me their score and one showed me what they felt that they were like with their work. This is just a few ways that I tweaked it over the years.

1. I laminated all the circles and the had a parent volunteer cut them for me.
2. I punched a hole in them.
3. I used binder rings instead
4. I used command hooks on the desk to hold them in place.
5. I wrote the students letter on the front. We never lost one again.
6. I put them on Astrobright paper. (Obsessed…what teacher isn’t?)

I am hopeful that some of these helped you with the many questions you had about the evaluations.

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Linky Party

Woohoo! I’ve joined my first link party. This one is all about everything you’ve done for the week. Let me tell you…It was a LOT this week!
We took my 11 month old to Georgia to see my in laws and then to Chattanooga. 

 We went to the Georgia Aquarium and the Tennessee Aquarium. I loved both but that is a whole different story.

We also went to Rock City and Ruby Falls which is quite amazing. Have you seen Ruby Falls? It’s a waterfall in the middle of the mountain. It was pretty cool!

Sarah and I finished our 3rd book for Dive Into Reading. They are mini-lessons and interactive read aloud lesson plans along with lots of other really awesome things but that will be posted about by next Wednesday so check back for that!

 Last but not least, I started Guided Math for fifth grade since I will be teaching fifth next year. So far I am about 4 lessons in (out of 11) and I absolutely love it. It’s engaging, it’s hands on, it’s interactive journals. Each lesson has Whole Group Lesson, Small Group Lesson, Remediation, On-level, and Above Level lessons, 2 pages of Classwork (we are a district where you must have places to practice to your work), an exit slip, and 2 pages of home-learning. I’m really proud of how much I’ve accomplished since Monday!

Fifth Grade Reading homework

Hey everyone! I’m super excited for this one. This is all about reading homework!

Let me start off with I despise reading logs. I really do. Anyone can fake a reading log or cheat on it or even forge their parents signatures. I wanted something to hold my students accountable. Years ago I created a folder and the kids had to fill it in but since I never read the books I was never able to hold them accountable with the correct answers. Well guess what…I found an amazing solution!!! (Where are the cheer cannons?!?! None?…oh ok.)
When I last taught intermediate, we had all these books come off adoption so I got them all! YES! However, we weren’t allowed to use them for guided reading anymore. So I never did anything with them until now. 

I decided to create a weekly reading book. The take home reading folders are quite simple even though they sound kind of difficult. On the left side of the folder is the book,  and on the right side is the daily questions. It is only about 3-4 questions a day and by Friday the whole weekly reading packet will be done. 
How do I sort this out?
1. there are 3 different color folders.
Orange [below level]
-Green [On level]
-Purple [Above Level]

Each color (all 6-10 students) have the EXACT same book. That way I won’t have to keep checking and asking myself-who read what book? However, I do have a check list to make sure I don’t repeat any books…you know…just in case.

Every Friday I collect the folders take out the books and the questions and as always, I check for correct answers and not completion. I don’t believe in checking just for completion. (Why give the kids work if you aren’t even going to see if they know how to do the particular skill?) That is an entirely different story.
On Monday, I call the group colors up to me in the morning and I give them their folders back, along with the new questions and the new book. They have the responsibility of putting it in the correct part of their folder because come on…they are fifth graders. 

It’s a really simple process and it works out great! 
Questions you may have:
What books am I using?
-Old Harcourt series
-Our Journeys series (old basal from district that is off adoption)
-Reading A-Z
Where do I get the questions from: 
-Typically, I don’t really like multiple choice so I create open ended questions and the students have to use the RACE acronym to answer the questions.
Can I sell the questions?
-I have no problem selling the questions, but I don’t know if a lot of people have the exact same books as me and I have yet to find them on Amazon. If I sell them it’d be like a dollar for all 3 levels. Would anyone be interested in the questions?

A Teacher’s Portfolio…

So it’s been no secret that I have been actively looking to transfer schools. I live an hour from where I work and I have an 8 month old that I can’t wait to see at the end of the day. I needed something closer. Not wanted…needed. A year ago I wouldn’t have cared about the drive but now I need to be near my baby. That means interviews. Ugh. Let me tell you that I feel like interviews are so impersonal. You talk to a principal for 30 minutes while they rattle off questions. Do they really get to know you? Probably not. I needed a way for people to know me. I’m a *bright* person. I don’t just mean in smarts. I attract attention wherever I go. No joke. I wanted a way for that to transfer into my interview…but how?
I went back to my college days…make a portfolio. I did. Let me tell you…it’s beautiful. No really- it’s gorgeous. I’m in love with it and it’s me. It’s a sneak peek into my classroom. It allows the principal to see what my classroom looks like without even being there. (Insert love eye emoji)

What did I start with?
1. My resume. Honestly- I splurged and bought one from etsy. Her name is TheResumeMaker. 
2. Then I included all of the committees or clubs that I’ve been chair of or been involved with. Of course I put them in chronological order.
3. I put a copy of my certificate. I worked hard for my certificate so you better believe I put that in there.
4. I took pictures of my reading centers and included that. I also gave descriptions of the reading centers.

5. Also, I included my examples of math centers. I had a few pages on this in my portfolio.
6. Parent communication is so important. I had a page just of parent communication. If you’re looking for the stuff in the pictures- the newsletter is from learning in wonderland, the app is from Remind 101. I have to look up the small sheet but I use them all the time!!!
7. I included all of my pieces of positive behavior. The little fuzzy ideas came from Seusstastic’s Mel D. The rest were created by me.
8. This was a great way for me to show students progress without bringing a ton of stuff with me. The rainbow words are Jen Jones from Hello Litercy, and the rainbow math is from my store.
The data binder is full of all the information of my kids. I the informal reading running record is from Deanna Jump.

I am hopeful that you got some ideas for your portfolio. I posted this on TeachersPayTeachers Right here!!! I posted on a video of this on my instagram.
Let me know if you want a copy of this! 

Veteran’s Week

Oh my goodness…I love November. It has such rich information throughout the entire month. It makes me so happy teaching all of these amazing social studies standards throughout the entire month. Let’s start from the beginning:

The first week we do our voting and we use a lot of things in relation to voting with the governor and President. In 2016, the voting will be amazing because the kids will be able to vote for someone that they really would want to vote for. Last year I blogged about it…you can check it out here. This year, I am allowing you to download the document used to vote.
Just click here!!

For Veteran’s Week, we had an amazing guest speaker come to the school. If Ms. Thompson ever reads this, know that we thank you for serving our country and teaching our kids amazing things! ❤ We have the anchor chart up from last year (see below).

 This year we added a few new elements:
1. We have a poppy poem. The kids LOVED this! I found it on Pinterest. If you wrote this then thank you for writing this! 

2. We each wore a [paper] poppy and in order to wear the poppy they had to answer the question: Why do we wear poppies? The answer is to show honor and our thanks to the men and women who served our country.
3. We added a weekly brag tag. This year I have tried really hard to create all these types of brag tags based on the theme for the week. The kids love this because they are able to tell peers that they are experts on the specific topic. 

We read the book Pepper’s Purple Heart.
We also created lap books (picture coming soon) from Keeping up with Mrs. Harris. I loved creating these with the kids! The kids learned so much and were able to show it in their lap book. We also read a book by Class of Kinders
Hopefully, you can use some of these amazing things next year!
Keep track of our blog so you can check out the Thanksgiving events! 

Off leave

I can’t believe it but I start school again on Monday! I’m really excited but bummed because I’ll miss my little boy! Stay tuned for bat week next week and all about the bl blends! 

Thematic Units

I’m finally back in the teaching world. I had baby W. He just melts my heart!
Now I feel ready to get back to tell you all about what’s been going on. I came back to work on October 12 and I hit the ground running! This year has been a little different because I’m implementing a theme every single week along with a blend each week. I started to create units based on what we are teaching each week and honestly, I feel like my students have made major gains. 
Why do thematic units?
Imagine a kids brain is like a computer. In the old days if you wanted to switch programs you would have to shut the computer down. It was a 10-15 minute project. That would be 10-15 minutes of learning time what we would lose. By the end of the year, it could be an entire weeks of learning that you’ve lost.
How do you do themes?
I choose a theme based on the book for the week. I will use the week of Halloween as an example for our themed week.
Theme: Witches
Blends/digraph- ch [ I have 1-2 a week]
Math-we were working on matching tens and numbers together so the game had a boiling pot with the base tens, and then a witch for the number. It literally just had the cute fun game with a witch on it.
Writing- we wrote a “how to” book on several things. 1- how to make your own stew [or potion] (if you were a witch, of course). 2- how to put a spell on someone 3-(not a how to but still works) how to be the best witch of them all. They were a lot of fun to write and we enjoyed reading what everyone’s stew (or potion) would do to people.
Reading- during reading we read Piggie Pie. Have you read it? It’s so cute! That was for our interactive read a loud. Then for shared I wrote a book called something witchy and we read that several times along with identifying the ch on each page. The kids love these little books because they add them to their “paper” Baggie and are able to read from there anytime they want. We then read a poem called Witches. I wrote it and we read it everyday and then we were able to place it on our poetry journal. 
Themed weeks are such a huge hit! At the end of each week, the students get a brag tag that they can add to their necklace that says they are an expert on that topic. All my kids get one because they all worked equally hard to learn about the topic.
October themes:
Bats, spiders, fire safety, witches
November themes:
Voting, Veterans Day, thanksgiving 
Come back monthly to check out our new themes!
Do you do themes in your classroom?What are they and what do they look like?

K-2 Conference Guides

I use to be the worst at conferencing. Honestly… I didn’t like it. It was a struggle because I never knew what to do. So instead of actually pulling conferences and guiding students, I would pull small strategy groups or work on something else. I realized that the students were never finding out if the things they were doing were correct. I came up with this conference form and hopefully this will help your writing instruction as much as it helped mine.
 When should you conference?
Honestly… it will be very difficult at first.
I struggle with pulling conferences at first,
but once I get into the groove- then I am good. You should be able to pull 3-5 students PER DAY. That way over a week you will see each student at least once. Are you going to do this as soon as you start the school year? NO! I had to put timers on my phone to help me stay on track. The first week, I got through 8 of my 20 students. The second week was 10, then 14, then finally I got through all 18 in one week. It took me four weeks to get my rhythm. I did keep track of which students I saw and made sure the following week that I targeted the students that I missed.  

 How do you conference?
It is so easy to say “fix this- and this-
and this.” As teachers, we need to get out
of this terrible habit. Okay-so what do you do?
First– Always welcome and say hi to them.
Ask if you can read their story. Don’t just take
their story. This is special moments to them
and it’s not your place to be rude about
their stories.
Second– Give them something to compliment
 them on. Don’t worry there is a page in
the file that has a list of things you can
compliment them on.
Third– Now tell them what they need to work 
on. Only give them one item to fix. The reason
why??-because they can’t remember everything! One thing will be sure to get done. When they come back to you, you will be able to see if they completed the task. Now, you are probably going to see 20 things that they need to work on. If you are OCD like me you can write errors on a sticky note and refer back to that later.
Last– Write it down!!!! My first year I made the 
mistake of never writing it down. I kept repeating 
myself to the kids on everything they needed to work on.
I had no way of monitoring their growth or to
check back to see if they completed the last task.

On the document, you will see that there is a section for compliments. You can keep track of the last compliment that you gave them so you don’t repeat yourself. The next line is the teaching point. What did you just teach them to do? It’s kind of like a reteach but in writing. The last line is the next step. I always ask them what they are going to be working on next. Then I fill it in. For my students who are strugglers, I will have them sign it because then they feel like they are being held accountable and they HAVE to do what they signed.  I hope this helped you with conferencing notes & guiding the conferences. If you want to purchase the K-2 conference guide you can click :here.