Saturday, August 25, 2012

James and the Giant Peach

How many of you teach reading with chapter books as opposed to basal readers? I honestly do not like our reading series. Most of the stories are boring and I just don't see the kids enjoying reading them. Last year I attempted chapter books for the first time. I was nowhere near prepared, but it was after the middle of the year and I had already taught all the big skills so I was able to just throw them into each week. The kids loved it. They were loving reading for once. They were able to remember what happened earlier in the book and I was really impressed. And their comprehension was just amazing. Even my low readers who never volunteered were wanting to read out loud and were able to answer questions. I even saw an increase in fluency!

This year I decided I was going to rearrange our basal reader to go with our IB units. I hated it. I can't read the stories out of order. If I am using those books, I am doing them in order so that the skills match the stories. So I decided to go back to reading them in order... or so I thought. Friday at about 2:00 I decided I would rather read chapter books. So off I went to our library to look at our literature buckets. I decided that James and the Giant Peach would be a fun one to start with. Only I have never read the book and have NO resources on it. So I thought, ok I will read it a week ahead of my class plans and create things as I go along. But that plan is already failing because I spent today sewing some dresses for 2 special little girls going on the Mickey Boat next month (can we say jealous?!)

So has anyone here read this book and have any suggestions? Found anything on the web that was just amazing? I looked on TpT but I haven't found anything that looks like what I am looking for. If you have any suggestions, links, things you have bought that you can lead me to, etc. I would so appreciate it. I may just switch to Because of Winn Dixie to start with but James seems to be an easier read (even though it is a higher leveled book).

And just to add in my 2cents... I realize that common core is trying to get kids to read more nonfiction and I know that THE TESTS have a lot of nonfiction on them. But I just can't teach my kids reading skills with completely nonfiction. If they can't read/don't like to read, I feel that if I find books that will hold their interest I can improve their fluency/comprehension and THEN start working on nonfiction. Kids that can't read aren't going to learn by reading a science or social studies article. They have to first learn to read and understand...then we can work on reading the boring stuff.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ay yi yi...

That is what I sent my husband tonight after I finished my sentences mini unit and felt like my eyes were about to pop out of my head. I decided a couple nights ago to get moving on my grammar for the next two weeks. I spend two weeks on sentence types. The first week I work on declarative and interrogative and the second week we work on imperative and exclamatory. I spend two weeks to make sure students really familiarize themselves with these "big third grade words"...aka the way they will be asked on THE TEST. And then throughout the year I will constantly use these words and ask for examples. So anyways, I spent the past couple nights working on this mini unit so that I would have some grammar things ready for the next 2 weeks. This is by no means an entire unit. It is NOT all I will do in the next two weeks. But these are just a few of the big things. I listed the unit tonight and am so excited about it. I swear the clipart just makes me smile!
30 pages for $3.00

Included in the mini unit:

Sentence Types posters
Declarative and Interrogative Practice
Imperative and Exclamatory Practice
Class sentence sort
Sentence Sleuth Sorting game
(can be used as a center or with groups)
Paragraph sentence identification assessment
Writing sentences assessment
Multiple choice & matching assessment
Answer Keys

Now... I must go to bed before my eyes really do pop out of my head... the kiddos probably would be a little disgusted by that tomorrow!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A week full of smarties...

I am seriously beyond proud of my students this week. It is only the second week of school and they are just amazing me. The things that they are able to do and the things that they are catching on to so quickly, I am so proud. It has really made me happy. There are days where I used to be so stressed out (and admittedly Tuesdays continue to be stressful days because of grade level meetings) but my class just reminds me that I am there to teach and clearly I am doing a good job of it! So I wanted to record some of the things that amazed me this week that my students said...

I barely taught expanded form. I touched on it for a few minutes and then let students try it just to see. Most of them got it right away! And as we continued to work with larger numbers they STILL were able to do it!

Addition with regrouping- I have NEVER had a group of third graders that could do it. And without me even teaching it. I use Ashleigh's weekly word problems as morning work and expected to really struggle in August with them since we haven't done adding and subtracting but they are able to do it for the most part. At least half of them can even regroup with subtraction! I am amazed!

Sentences and fragments- they are just rocking it out with these! All levels of students in my room can get this. They all can identify that a fragment is an incomplete sentence and that a sentence has two parts (for now they are calling these a noun and a verb...until next week).

Matter- on Monday they had no clue what matter even was. Thursday we were listing different examples of solids, liquids, and gases. Most years the best my students can come up with for gas is air. This year... I got (without prompting) helium (they did call it the "air that makes the balloon float... so I told them the correct name), the exhaust from a car, and steam when you are cooking. I could NOT believe it! I am beyond proud of this one!

Even during our shortened version of morning meeting... we played caught red handed this week. After the first day of playing they were really good at making sure the person guessing could not find out who had the ball. If you don't know what this game is- all students stand really close in a circle with one child in the middle. The child in the middle closes their eyes while the circle passes a ball around behind their backs. I taught them to try to be sneaky so they weren't caught with the ball. On the second day of playing NONE of the guessers got it right- my kids caught on to how to be patient and not obvious. Now, to get the student in the middle to be patient and figure out where the ball is.... it will happen someday.

I told them they are the smartest class in the whole school.... but made them promise to keep it a secret. Let's hope we can hold onto this theory and prove it in April...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Easy Peasy in action

On Thursday my students went for round 2 of Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. On Wednesday they tried but I completely forgot how S.L.O.W. they are in the beginning of the year. So 45 minutes didn't cut it for writing their 24 sentences/fragments. So I decided to cut the activity in half and some STILL didn't finish in 40 minutes today. And it wasn't the sorting that took them a long time. They are pretty confident when it comes to identifying sentences and fragments. But their writing...yikes! I have decided (now that I have seen my students play the game) that I am going to edit the answer sheet that I made to go with the game and reload it to TpT this weekend. Because I imagine some other teachers will need to modify this activity as well. Here is Easy Peasy in action...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sit back, relax, and put your feet up...

Because that is what I am finally doing! After a whirlwind week traveling last week and fearing what would happen in my class without me on the first week of school, and then treating this week as the real first week... I am finally sitting down relaxing... for a minute. Today is the first day I feel like I can breathe. My students rocked out their lessons today and yesterday and I was just amazed at how smart they already are. I am giving out smart beads left and right! And I only give them out for really thinking outside the box or getting a hard answer right! I love love love my class this year! We have a few minor issues (a couple chatty patties) but nothing awful. And so... sing I am finally sitting down breathing... how about a view of my classroom. Now, forgive me if it is a disaster. But as you know, once students come in, that cuteness is a disaster sometimes. And I took the pictures today while students were in the midst of working on their Easy Peasy game (post to come later with those pictures) so there are kids and things all over the place. Now remember... I am in a trailer portable.
My desk area and white board which is the side of my class I guess.
Going around the room, my IB board, centers, turn in work area, computers, writing center

Smart board- front of room, word wall

Remainder of room
Nothing too fancy... but it is good enough for me for now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I always forget...

... that at the beginning of third grade, I am really working with end of year second graders. Today we tried to do my Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy activity. The good news... for the most part my students really did great at sorting the sentences and fragments. Which is thrilling to me because they actually KNEW how to decipher between the two. The bad news... I forgot they write so S...L...O...W! After 40 minutes we had to stop for lunch and didn't have time to finish. I decided to cut the activity in half and only use 12 of the cards instead of 24. We are going to try again tomorrow with half the workload and see if that helps. I will take pictures of my kids working on it tomorrow and post! Does anyone else always forget that the incoming group is really last year's grade level still? It gets me every.time!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy is ready! (And I am joining the sale)

Finally... a post of some substance! I posted yesterday about my giant to do list. I am proud to say that I do not have much left to do and I anticipate getting it completed at a decent hour tonight... assuming Payton is not too clingy and/or sick. I wanted to show you one of my grammar activities that I created. It is called Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy (hence the title of this post) and it is a sentence and fragment sort game. (I posted about it when I first started this blog and said I would share pictures once I put it all together. And now that I finally did, I am back to share.)

A few years ago I created a very similar game... except there was no theme, no cute clipart, and no recording sheet. I wanted the activity to be cute (because who doesn't love cute?!) and to have some type of theme. When I saw this clipart set I just had to have it... and since it is the first skill I teach in grammar, and it is still summer... I figured why not?! And I give you Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy...

Clicking the image should take you to the product page on TpT

Now, up until this weekend I hadn't done anything with this other than create it and be very excited to use it. Well... it is time to use it this week so I finally put it together. I decided to make 5 sets so that all of my students can work on it at the same time and I can pull a group to complete it with me. What does that mean? It means I spent at least an hour printing, cutting, laminating, cutting again, organizing, and setting it up. But in the end... I LOVE it! I think the cups might be my favorite part!

After all the cutting, I knew I needed a way to decipher the pieces for each game. We all know some of these pieces will end up on the floor and next thing I know some group has too many while another doesn't have enough and I am left to spend hours figuring out what happened. Not this year! I simply assigned each set a number and ALL pieces are numbered... even the cups are numbered.

And it is very easy storage. Stack both cups and stick the bag of pieces inside!

And there you have it. A cute little game for your kiddos to play (it could also be a center game, and it does have a challenge on the recording sheet for the early finishers/high achievers).

(I just noticed that I made a typo in my teacher notes for this activity. I originally intended to have the sentences and fragments on ice cubes but I didn't like how it looked and changed it to lemons. But in the teacher info it says something about sorting the ice cubes (but not on the student directions)... I am going to try to fix that now.)

PS... I have decided to put my items on sale from 8/11-8/13. I only did 10% because my items are priced low. Use the code BTS12 to get up to an additional 10% off from TpT (this code will only work on 8/12-8/13). Get to shoppin! I already have a ton of things ready to purchase :) (Image from Ashley)
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