Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mystery Mail

After we learned about drawing conclusions we talked about how inferring was very similar. We stuck with the "drawing conclusions" skill but I talked about inferring because of the following activity. While on my quest to find fantastically fun activities for drawing conclusions, I happened upon this post from Clutter-Free Classroom. I just knew we HAD to do mystery mail. And so I purchased this from TpT (and say this is one of my best purchases to date) and got everything ready. It worked out perfectly because we also just started learning about letters to write to our pen-pals (details in another post). So while my class was at lunch I got my letter ready and posted it to our smart board. I was going to post it on the dry erase board but most of them don't face that board and probably wouldn't notice.
We came in from lunch and I gave them directions to sit down and work on the assignment we started before lunch. About 5 minutes into them working someone said "omg Mrs. Sz we got mail!" So I turned my head and said "oh so we did" and continued on to helping the child I was helping. This killed them. They wanted to open that mail so bad! They worked real hard to get their work finished so we could see who it was from. So once everyone finally finished, I asked if they wanted to open it or go to recess. Would you believe they wanted to open the mail instead?! So we gathered on the floor and started to open it. My kids yelled for me to wait until EVERYONE was ready and made me hold the mail up in the air to be sure I wasn't peaking before they could see.

Everyone came to the floor and I put my prepared chart up on the board (to which they said "how did you know to make that"- I told them I saw there was mail so I got it ready during lunch). I started opening the envelope and one my kids was called for ESL. The rest of the class felt bad she was going to miss out on the fun. I told them that we should make some predictions who it could be from and make some observations about it before I opened it.
None of them even noticed that my stamp was hand drawn. I think they were so convinced it was from our pen-pal class that they couldn't think of anything else. So I finally opened the envelop and pulled out my clues one at a time. I didn't even mean to but I practically confirmed for them that it was their pen-pals even though it wasn't. See a little background- I am from Buffalo NY and our pen-pal class is my friend's class back home. They know this. So when the first clue was Buffalo Wings (as they called them)- they said Buffalo! It's food from Buffalo. My intent was they would say something about me. Oops #1.

Clue number 2 was a picture of an apple because I am a teacher and I like apple products. They took it as "The Big Apple- NY is called the Big Apple". Oops #2.

Clue number 3 I thought would be the giveaway. My kids know I love love love colored pens. So it was a picture of colored pens. Well I am sure you can guess what happened here. They said "PENS for pen-pals". Oops #3.

I was hysterical at this point trying to read my letter to them. It took until I got to the line that said "you are the best class I have ever had" for them to realize it was from me. One little girl said "I knew it was you!" and another said "Ya know most times it isn't good to tell stories- but we will forgive you for this one because it was fun." Afterwards I asked them what they just did and my little boy that I posted about here, shot his hand up in the air and was practically jumping to answer. So I called on him and he proudly said "DREW CONCLUSIONS!" to which another boy said "Wait a minute.... we just did a lesson- you made us do work and we didn't even know it?!" I laughed. And after that enjoyable lesson we went out to recess.

Have I mentioned I love these kids?!

(Thank you Clutter-Free Classroom for this amazing lesson. I have 5 other teachers preparing mystery mail for my kids and we are doing one a week- which is why I taught the word inferring because next time students will complete the worksheet that came with the lesson and it says infer.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Drawing Conclusions

Last week we had to work on the dreaded drawing conclusions skill. Without fail, every year when I teach it, some kid still thinks it has something to do with drawing. But not this year, thanks to Babbling Abby's post, they got it. Now- the original post I found wasn't hers. It was from Life in First Grade (which I found pinned on pinterest) but I want both of these girls to get credit for helping me with this lesson. Anyways- back to the point of this post. I started looking up ideas well before I was ready to start teaching this skill because it is always a doozy. I usually start by asking the kids what they would know about me if I came in coughing and with a red nose and tissues. They always say that I am sick and we go into how did you know and blah blah so on. But this year, I decided to let them dig into my purse to draw conclusions.

I prefaced this lesson with you NEVER NEVER go in your teacher's bag unless she tells you to and the same goes for mom. I then told them that today they were going to pick something out of my purse and figure out what it means about me. Wow were they excited to stick their hands in my bag and take something (that was well planned out in advance) out. Every item that came out we listed on our chart and then discussed what it could mean about me.

After we finished digging out all the goods from my purse, I told them that what they just did was draw... and they shouted conclusions. I was so excited! Then I gave them the worksheet I made to go along with it and told them to pick three things to draw from my purse and write about what they can conclude about me based on these things.

I personally love the last sentence from this one and think it is a great conclusion :)
Please forgive grammar and spelling issues
My kids really loved this activity and truly got the concept of drawing conclusions... especially after the activity we did later in the week... post about that coming soon!

And don't forget about my Halloween items being on sale this weekend (well I set my sale up to run until Tuesday). My sale is 15% off since those items are low priced to begin with. I will be back to post about our other fun drawing conclusions activity later this weekend :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

It finally feels like fall!

I am so glad that it finally feels like fall! So happy that I plan to relax tonight in comfy pants and a hoodie with my blanket and nook! (Anyone else LOVE hoodie weather?!) Anyways... I am so excited that it feels like fall and that we have a lot of fun Halloween related events happening with our daughter from now until Halloween that I decided to put all of my Halloween items on sale until the 30th. The sale will start tomorrow and end the 30th. I am putting them at 15% off since my prices on these things are already pretty low anyways. I hope this helps someone with some last minute sanity savers for the week of Halloween. The items on sale are:
October writing calendar
October-December writing calendar (I know only 1 of the 3 are Halloween ish but that's ok)
I Need My Monster descriptive writing (my kids just did this and had a blast- unfortunately I have had such a bad week I didn't get into it and take pics)
Fall Grammar Mini Pack
Common and Proper Noun Candy Jars
Falling For Sentence Types (again, I know not Halloween but there are some sentences about Halloween so I figured why not?!)

And I have a goal dollar amount in my head again and when I reach that I will giveaway my newest item (that I haven't even posted about yet but if you want to see what it is... click here- a post will be coming soon). And if I get to 25 followers on TpT (or whenever I do) I will giveaway another copy of it!

I promise I will be back with some posts of substance as soon as I finish this book :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Writing Calendars

I was really busy this weekend getting my writing calendars up for November and December. I created one for November that has two calendars (one with numbers that match this year's dates and one without numbers). For December, since most people are out quite a bit of Dec, I just created one calendar without numbers. I also bundled the October, November, and December calendars into one for a discounted price. Click the pictures to take you to the links of the items.

$1.50 for November


$1.00 for December since there is only 1 calendar

$2.50 for the bundle

Since I do different writing activities weekly with my kids, I plan to use these in my writing center. I will put them in a sheet protector and leave a dry erase marker nearby and students can put their number in the box of the prompt that they do (I will be using the blank calendars). Another idea that just popped into my head is to laminate this and tape it onto a class journal cover and allow students to pick a prompt from the calendar for that journal... hmm... things to think about. Anyways- if you are in need of some writing calendars/prompts, please check them out. I included other ideas for how to use them in the packet.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Success comes in all shapes and sizes...

I have to share some of my proudest moments from the past week. I have been working super hard and super long to make sure we have fun, engaging lessons. And yes, a lot of my ideas are coming from other bloggers, pinterest, and TpT, but that is what this community is for right? Anyways... we have been working on drawing conclusions and it is always one of the hardest skills for my kids to "get". So a few weeks ago I began scouring the internet for ideas. And boy were there some good ones (posts coming soon about those... they aren't important in this post). And I knew it was a successful week when one of my students who really struggles with reading "got" it. He knew what we were doing and he knows what it means. Not only that... but because we have been having so much fun learning, this child, who typically gets the "ugly face" any time any reading/language arts lesson comes up, has been volunteering. He is not a good reader. He will tell you that. But when we were reading out loud from Charlotte's Web (which is a higher level than most my students read at, especially this boy) his hand shot up in the air to volunteer. And when we were going over grammar homework (possessive nouns, another skill my kids usually struggle with), again he was shooting his hand in the air to volunteer. And on Friday when he took his grammar test, he got a 95! This from a child who usually just circles any answer and writes anything down because he "knows" he "can't do it". Another thing... usually when he asks me to spell a word and I sound it out for him, he doesn't try. Lately, when I break the words apart he has been trying... and mostly succeeding with his spelling of the words. I have never been so proud of a child as I am of this boy. And I just had to share. It's times like these that I remember why I teach... and realize that not letting the stress of all the "other" stuff get to me is really worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Need My Monster...

Maybe I am the last teacher on Earth to hear of this book, but it is adorable! How I never knew of it is beyond me, but now I do and I am so glad. I picked it up last weekend during educator days at B&N because I knew I wanted to do a writing activity with it. I decided that I will read the story to my students first. Then they will draw a picture of their own monster and answer simple questions about it. After that we will work on writing descriptive paragraphs. Each student will use the answers to their questions to help them write a descriptive paragraph about their monster. And to make it extra cute, I am going to bust out the construction paper and let them "bring their monster to life", making a model of their monster that they drew. I created a couple pages to go with the activity and listed them in my TpT store for $1.50. Included is the question/illustration page as well as writing paper with cute monster clip art. Each page is available in both primary and intermediate lines. If you are short on time and just want a cute activity to go with the book, you could just have your students complete the illustration and question page. Click either of the pictures below to check out this cute activity!

My students will be working on this activity (hopefully) this week once we finish our pen pal letters (more on that soon). Once we do, I will be sure to share some of the cuteness!

Also, I just want to give a BIG THANK YOU to Tracey over at Third Grade All Stars for posting about her students working on my common and proper nouns sorting activity. I appreciate the shout out and am glad her students loved it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

So much to share that I don't know where to start...

Like the title says, I have so much that I want to share with you that I am not sure where to start. We have been doing so many fun things and my kids are learning so much. I really love this class. I tell my husband and mom a million times a week how much I love this class. They are probably sick of hearing it by now. But I can't help it!

So I think I will start with something we did a while ago. We started learning about author's purpose and made this anchor chart together.
And throughout the week we worked on different activities. The first thing we did was Nicole Shelby's Owl S'more activity. The class LOVED it! We started by passing out the ingredients and having the students guess what we were making. After making the s'mores we went to lunch where the students were able to finally enjoy their treat (which by the way are delicious). We didn't have time to do anymore that day, so the next day we wrote the steps on the board to create an owl s'more. The kids remembered every single detail. I then let them use our class created steps to write a rough draft. I edited it with them and then let them do a final copy and create the craftivity that came with the plans. We talked about how this written pieces was to inform because we were teaching others how to do something. I don't have any pictures of the final product but I will share them once I create the bulletin board that I am doing with them. But what I do have are pictures of my kids with their s'mores. They were so proud of them! (Just a tip: we didn't have access to a microwave so in order to get our chocolate chips to stick to the orange chocolate we tore off tiny pieces of marshmallow and used it as glue. It worked perfectly!)

I enjoyed this activity so much that I am working on creating another activity for my kids to do that is similar. I will be sure to share about it once I get it done.

Posts coming up: (not necessarily in this order)
Wild Things (entertaining)
I Wanna Iguana (persuasive)
I Need My Monster
Mystery Mail
Happy notes
Great success from one of my kiddos

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just a quick post...

This fall break has been just what I needed to start getting caught up. I know I should have taken more time to myself (I did take a lot of time to do things not related to school don't worry) but I was actually enjoying doing my to do list. I can not function without my to do lists and at any given time you will find 2 or more lists in my plan book to be worked on. Anyways... I just wanted to share that I bundled my three fall activities that I posted about last week. They are the Common and Proper Candy Jars, October writing calendar, and Falling for Sentence Types. If you buy them all separate it would be $3.50, but I bundled them all together for $2.50. I figured this way if someone wants both, they end up getting something free :) You can find the bundle here. (And I will be sending this pack out to the people that commented and helped me out with my last post. Thanks again!- More on my decision in another post.)

I also made a quick productive resource flap book that I posted for free, to save someone time in the future. Nothing fancy about it. I used to make the layered/stacked books, but this is just so much faster and uses less paper. So it worked perfect for me and my minimal time. My students will be using this {hopefully} this week. On the front, they will draw a picture that represents each resource. On the inside left they will write the meaning of the word. And on the inside right, they will write examples of the resource. Quick and simple. I will be using it as an assessment but it could also be used for note taking purposes. You can find it here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Asking for some recommendations

I have been looking into a few books to read in order to help myself become better at small group instruction as well as instilling a love of reading into my class. I love to read (and really wish someone would pay me to do it... but that is a whole different dilemma) and it just breaks my heart to see kids that don't know how to love to read. Most of my kids will just open their book to any random page, read it, and then when their time is up just close it. It kills me that they don't know how to truly enjoy a chapter book. It also doesn't help having only 5 minutes to pick a book when they go to the library (but again- another dilemma entirely). So here it my question...

I have been looking at The Book Whisperer, The Daily Five, and The Cafe Book, and just recently Reading with Meaning. Now, I don't have a lot of time as it is, so which do you suggest I read first and why? Or are there any of these that you suggest I skip right over? Our B&N is having educator days this weekend so I would like to pick up whatever is suggested and would really appreciate all the input I can get. Or do you have a different book you highly suggest and why?

As a thank you to anyone who replies (with a meaningful reply- I really need reasons for why I should pick that book) by Friday night, I will email you all 3 of my new Fall related activities. Just leave your email address in the comments (in this format ginaATyahooDOTcom to prevent spam) and I will get these three things to you this weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Writing Calendar Freebie #3

Here is my final two day freebie. It is an October writing calendar. I have included two versions of the calendar. One version has the 2012 dates on it and the other has no dates. You could use the blank one in so many ways. It could be stapled into student journals to give them prompts for the month. It could be laminated/put in a sheet protector and put in a writing center. It can be used as daily morning work/homework. I think it would work well for students to choose their own writing assignment and then color in the box as they finish it, making sure they don't do the same prompt more than once. I wish I would have had this ready before now, but things can be pretty hectic, as you all know. Better late than never.

Grab it while you can. It will be listed for $1.50 after the two day freebie run!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Candy Corn Plurals Freebie

This was originally intended to be freebie #3 offered for two days only, but I changed my mind and decided to just make it a freebie for always. It is just a simple worksheet where students have to turn the fall/Halloween themed singular nouns into plural nouns. After they finish they can color in the candy corn. Too often we don't have time for the fun stuff so at least this way students can color. It can also be used as homework. I am using it for a quick review since most of my students are pretty good with making nouns plural.
Again, I have no idea why that black line is down the right side but if anyone can help me I would appreciate it!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Common and Proper candy jars Freebie #2

The second thing I will be offering for free for two days only is a common a proper noun sorting activity with a Halloween theme. My students understood the concept of common and proper nouns but then when they took their test they seemed to be really confused. They thought things like "owls" were proper nouns because it named a type of bird. So we will be reviewing common and proper this week and decided to make a fun activity for them. And since I made my goal in sales last quarter, it will be free for two days and then it will be priced at $1.00. Grab it while you can!
I will be having my students work on this with partners but I could also see this being a fun center activity. If I had the time I would probably get some cheap candy jars, decorate them with all different candy clipart and label them common and proper. I would laminate the printed candies and have them put them in the correct jar. For recording purposes I would just print the paper candy jars and have them write their answers. Another thing that I think would be cute would be to get the plastic candy that people use as decorations (think Christmas candy decorations) and use a permanent marker to write the words on the candy. They could sort those instead of paper candies... oh the possibilities... if we had time! I will be sure to take pictures while my kids work on this one. If you download it while it is free, please leave feedback :)

Stay tuned for freebie #3...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Falling for Sentence Types- Freebie #1- 2days only! and Teacher's Gonna Snap

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had made my sales goal and because of that I planned on creating something to giveaway for free. I have created the first of three things that I plan on giving away as a little thank you to anyone who reads this blog and anyone that follows my store (or anyone who is lucky enough to land upon the item on TpT before I put it back up for sale).

The first item is a sentence type sort with a fall theme. There are 12 sentences on leaves that students will color and sort into the correct type of sentence. They will glue them onto the bare tree branches. You can mount these on colorful paper and have a nice little display. I created this to use as a review activity for next week because we only have 3 days. I hope you enjoy!
Here is just a cell phone picture. The leaves aren't colored yet (obviously) because I was just testing the size of the leaves in comparison to the tree. If you download this item I would really appreciate if you could leave feedback before the price goes up to $1.00 on Tuesday.

Now for Teacher's Gonna Snap...

I saw this link up on Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera and even though I don't have many pictures (because I forgot my camera half the month) I thought it would be fun to link up and hopefully encourage me to bring my camera to school and actually USE it. I tend to forget I have it most days,

Also, my camera's date is messed up so I don't know when these were taken or in what order. But I am pretty sure they are from September at some point... and some are cell phone pictures.
We modeled molecules with cocoa puffs.

A definite fan favorite... they want all our lessons to involve food..and they weren't even allowed to eat it!

We learned about addition properties

We started using our class journals. I only have 4 out so far (summer fun, back to school, sports, and halloween) and they LOVE to write in them. I decided to write back to them after they finish and they just can't get enough.
We started collecting box tops.... all these are from 1 student

We had technology difficulties... this is what happens to my smart board all the time now. It shakes like this :(

Ok I did not do good with pictures last month. But now I am making it my goal to take better pictures so that I can have more to share next month because I love this idea!
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