Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kids say the darndest things...

Just a quick post for tonight to share something that gave me a little laugh today...

One of my little girls (J) was reading one of the Wimpy Kid books and all of a sudden I hear "ummmm"

here is how the rest of this conversation went down...

Me: J what's wrong?
J: Um there is a bad word in this book!
Me: WHAT?! Let me see that,..where is it?!
J: Right here...see... {points to word}
Me: J honey..that says britches... another word for pants...not a bad word
J: OOOOH man whew... I thought it said the BAD B word...

I love my kids. Good night :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Groundhog gets a say- Freebie

I don't have much time to post tonight because I have a sick little girl again (tis the season I guess) but I wanted to share a quick activity that you can grab for free and do quickly this week! And even more exciting, I am linking up with Rebecca for her Fabulous Freebie linky! (Click the image below to be taken to her post for more awesome February freebies)

Our skill this week is fact and opinion and I knew Groundhog Day was coming so I wanted to do something with that. I looked up books and decided on Groundhog Gets a Say. It is a really cute book about a groundhog trying to convince a squirrel and crow that he is pretty cool. It is filled with facts and opinions. While I was reading the book to the students, we pointed out different examples of facts and opinions.

The next step we did in preparation for a writing activity that I got from Stephanie at Sparkling in Third Grade.  (I highly suggest you look at this activity because it is REALLY cute.) We made a t-chart of reasons why we would want the groundhog to see his shadow (and have 6 more weeks of winter) and why we might not want him to see his shadow (and have spring come early). We did this to give the kids ideas of reasons to include in their writing later in the week. (Sorry I don't have a picture of this because I was about to leave for the day and just wanted to make sure we finished the lesson.)

The original plan was to do this next step today, but since I had to leave early, I saved it for tomorrow (so again, no pics yet..sorry!). Students are going to get into three groups. One group will work with me and sort the statements, one group will do the same activity without me, and one group will just get the blank sheet and write their own facts and opinions (this is my group that needs more of a challenge).

Sorry these pictures are sideways, I am on the wrong computer to edit them.
If you are looking for something fun for Groundhog Day, fact and opinion, or both, stop by and pick up this freebie! Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Don't give the ending away!

That is what I have been telling my students about main idea. They ALWAYS want to give too much information.

Last week we worked on main idea...again. I swear I could teach this every single week and some just still wouldn't get it. We started with an article I found on about kids getting healthy. This was meant to be independent practice (and on the second day) but I had to modify it to fit into our 4 day week. The kids were really interested in this article and we went through each paragraph discussing the main idea of each. Then we took them all and came up with the main idea of the entire article. During this activity is when I noticed that some of my students wanted to give too much information. They KNEW the main idea, but kept giving details with it. I knew I had to figure out a way to put an end to that otherwise on state testing they would definitely be picking the details.

The next day I gave each student an index card and told them to think about their favorite movie or tv show. I had them each write ONE sentence telling me what the show was about and draw a quick picture to go with it. Then each student read out their sentences and the students who had seen the show/movie would say whether it was correct or not. This seemed to be the lightbulb moment for them because they weren't allowed to tell me all the little details.

After that, I put one of Tracy's main idea passages up on the smart board and we read it together, finding the main idea.

Students then paired off and each got a different story to read and identify the main idea of. They THEN had to come up with 2 details to go with the main idea of the story.

My kids (so far) are doing really well with this and I have some that are even able to explain WHY some of the choices are wrong ("the whole article isn't about ____" or "there aren't any details to go with this, so it can't be the main idea"). We had to stop and so now the articles are all in a basket for students to work on during their free time (and they actually WANT to). The articles are all nonfiction (she has another winter set that has a mix a fiction and nonfiction) and really engaging! My kids were so intrigued by some of the articles that I promised them that we could do an ocean animals unit towards the end of the year. If your kiddos struggle with main idea, or even being engaged in short nonfiction articles, I HIGHLY suggest taking a look at these. They can be used independently, differentiated, or as center activities. My kids love them and actually want to do work in their free time! That is a sure sign of a great activity! Thanks Tracy for creating something so amazing!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good mornin'...good mornin'...we've talked the whole night through...

I know I know, it isn't morning (well it might be for some people reading this but it is late night posting it). BUT that is the song that is stuck in my head right now as I get ready to share with you my new, amazing, out of this world morning work routine. And I have a lot of other bloggers to thank for this routine.

What happened was this... About a month into the school year, my support schedule changed and I was now scheduled to have Chinese every morning at 8:45. That is first thing in the morning and left (so I thought) no time for morning work. My kids were just straggling in by 8:30 and have to eat breakfast in the classroom. It got to the point where I was getting frustrated even assigning work because most of them weren't even finishing it.

Then... I got even more mad that I wasn't doing things that really helped my kids last year. And so with the help of Ashleigh, Nicole, and Denise, I now have the most amazing morning work routine ever.

I decided over winter break that this was it. I was going to enforce this routine and I didn't care how slow my kids were at first, they were going to get this all done. And I am proud to say that after less than a month of this, they (for the most part) get all of the following done, every. single. morning.

For starters, when we get ready to dismiss, the students put their homework folders on their desks. You would be surprised how much time that one simple step saves for the next morning. Students don't have to fumble around trying to find their folder and they also know to start it right away because it is right there in front of them.

They come in and start with Ashleigh's weekly word problems. I have loved these since last year and they REALLY helped my kids understand clue words for word problems. By the end of the year my kids were working through them really fast.

The next step is 4 boxes of the weekly word wizard from Denise. This is made for 2nd grade but I find that it serves as a GREAT review for my kids on skills that we might not otherwise review. Plus, to make it more challenging, when we go over them, I make the students justify their answer.

The third thing is also from Ashleigh. We do her number of the day. However, I have turned it into the number of the week. When I first introduced this activity, we took a blank copy (with no number, but it had hints on it- this is included in the pack) and color coded the boxes for each day. Some days there are 3 boxes, some days 4, and on Thursday and Friday just 2 and 1. I was REALLY worried about them doing this one for two reasons: 1- some of the stuff we haven't even learned yet and 2- some of it is actually a little challenging for my kids. BUT again my kids have amazed me and they are doing great with this!

The final step is to complete Nicole's Daily Fix It Up sentences. These are another thing I have loved since last year! My kids have a half composition notebook (which makes it even more fun because of how cute the notebook size is) and they copy the sentences inside and correct the mistakes. I project this on the smartboard (the rest isn't projected, obviously since we only have one board, until we go over it together). The kids LOVE these and LOVE to find the mistakes. This is also another thing whre I make them justify their answer.

Yes it seems like a lot...especially because they get only 30 minutes IF they get there right at 8:15 (but don't have to be in until 8:30) but they do it. And it keeps them busy and quiet. And yes, it takes time to go over it each and every day (because we do, unless something comes up-typically broken technology), but I really am finding that it is worth it because of how much we can pack in in those morning work minutes.

If you are in need of some morning work ideas I HIGHLY suggest looking at any or all of the products above. They could obviously be used for things other than morning work (homework, morning meeting, centers, etc) but this is the best way for us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Here come the googly eyes

This post is not what I had planned to post about today, but instead it is one of those unexpected moments that just put a genuine smile on your face. My day started off awful. In fact, I wanted to just go back home and curl up under the covers and try again tomorrow. Come on, we all have those days. And when my day starts like that, it ends up setting the tone for my entire day. (Add to it some training during PLC first thing in the morning and you have the recipe for sheer miserableness from this teacher.) But I put on the happy face and went on with my day.

This story starts after lunch... we were heading back outside to our classroom when my boy R (who holds the door always- it is his unofficial job permanently) waited for everyone to get outside and said Mrs Sz. R2 told everyone that I like J. To which I replied "ah just ignore it don't let it bother you, everyone will forget in an hour." He said ok and on we went with our day. (Seriously I think it is the cutest little thing when the crushes least in 3rd grade they are innocent. Now when they get older and they aren't so innocent, that isn't cute...but even I had a little boyfriend in 3rd grade.)

So later in the day J says to me "Mrs. Sz he is trying to hit me!" I said J honey there are a lot of "hes" in this room, which HE are we talking about here? "R!".... here is how the rest of the day played out (it was dismissal time)...

Me: "R come over here let me tell you a HUGE secret!"
R:- comes over really close
Me: People are going to think you like J because when you play like that and pretend to hit her, that is what little boys do that like girls.
Me; Yea R I have been there I know all about how little kids act. Do you have just a little crush on J
Me: Are you sure? Not even the tiniest crush?
R: NOOOOO (mind you he is looking at the floor and laughing)
Me: Are you sure, because you are giving me the look that Payton gives when she is lying.
R: - continues laughing at the floor
Me: Look at you! You can't even look me in the face!
R- looks at me and continues laughing
Me: It's ok it is our little secret
R: NO! I don't though!

I sent him back to his desk after telling him that I was just messing with him and we had a good laugh. He is one of those kids that you can mess with like that and he gets it. He had a good laugh over it and wasn't upset (some kids I would NEVER joke with like that because they don't grasp it).

But because of that little goof around moment at dismissal, I came home in a much better mood than I started my day in.

And for that, I thank my kids. Because I go to work each day trying to teach them everything the test says they need to know, but at the same time they don't realize that they are teaching me a lot of things along the way, and sure know how to cheer me up, even if they don't know that I am in need of cheering up. 

And now a question for you- do your students develop little crushes? If so, what grade do you teach? I have to wonder when this starts for others. For me it has ALWAYS started after winter break. I always say something happens winter break of 3rd grade year.... 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year's Resolutions... Learner Profile Style...

Ok so... one of my resolutions was to blog 3x a week. Who was I kidding?! I am lucky to get on here and even READ the blogs I follow 3x a week, let alone type up posts! Maybe I should shoot for 1-2x a week.

But this post isn't about my resolutions. It is about my students' resolutions. See, I teach at an IB candidate school and we are about to have our authorization visit. My bulletin board plan was to do something with the Learner Profile words. But, I still wanted it to be cute. I can't resist cute. So I decided we would review the learner profile (some examples are communicator, thinker, reflective, balanced, etc) and then choose the one that each student wanted to do better at. I had full intentions of actually doing this in a technology format (think iPad craft) but I ran out of time. Then I remembered seeing the CUTEST resolutions craftivity from The Lesson Plan Diva on TpT and I could NOT resist. (You can find it here if you are interested in saving it for next year because she is going to update it yearly- so it really is a good investment if you ask me.)

Students each picked the one trait they needed to work on and then wrote why they wanted to be better at it, 2 ways to do it, and why it would help them in school. And then they made the craft. I had my kids just color theirs instead of printing it on construction paper, but you could easily print on construction paper. I decided to hang them in my classroom instead of the hall and will be hanging something different in the hall (long story, not important). I just love how cute they look hanging there and my kids are so proud of them!

Please don't mind the is a cell phone pic. 


Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Freezing.... (click for a blog reader FREEBIE!)

in the literal sense and in a new product sense. In the literal sense it has been cold...and my heat in my classroom has been having issues. Issues as in it just blows out air. And I teach in a trailer portable. So that is NOT ok. I nag the building engineer about it every day. They "fixed it" last week... and it isn't working again.

In a happier sense...I created something new to use in grammar this week. We are learning about past, present, and future tense verbs this week and since it is cold I went with a "frozen in time"/winter theme for this packet.

I can only teach grammar 4 days a week because my Mondays are full of support classes. So on Tuesday I am introducing the topic by having students complete a graphic organizer where they will brainstorm examples of past, present and future tense verbs and what they think these terms mean. (You can semi see this in the bottom left corner of the picture above... close to the title page.)

On Wednesday we are going to be completing a sorting activity that is found in the packet, or sold individually here.  Students will cut out snowflakes with verbs on them and sort them into past, present, and future tense. For homework they will complete this writing sentences activity found below (feel free to grab this and if you like it check out the link to the full packet here). (You can see the snowflakes sorting in the bottom left corner of the above picture.)

Thursday I am doing small groups with differentiated sorting games (a lot of sorting going on here... my kids love them). I am pulling my students that don't quite grasp it (based on Wednesday's activity and homework) and we will be working together to simply sort the verbs (no sentences). My other two groups will have sentences with verbs in them that they need to sort (to differentiate these two groups, one has the verbs underlined and the other is a little more challenging as the students have to identify the verbs).  (If you look in the preview file picture these are in the top left corner.)

Friday we are playing I have who has and then taking a test. (I have who has is in the top middle portion of the picture with the test in the bottom right corner). If you already have a test, the included test pages would be GREAT for extra practice/homework.

Enjoy the freebie! I hope to continue including freebies from new products in my blog posts about them.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's that time...

Yep... time for 2 things... winter break to end (that's the sad part of this post) AND Farley's Currently (that's the exciting part of this post). I missed last month's currently because things were a little hectic. And if I don't post this one today, I will end up missing this one too because I head back to work tomorrow.

So without further ado...
Most of this is pretty self explanatory, and you can see the theme here is ORGANIZE. I am so not organized. It is AWFUL! I have so many amazing resources yet every time I start a new unit I have to dig through files and crates and binders to find everything. I started this past summer getting it all organized. I have ALL my grammar resources in a binder sorted by skill. I have almost all of my science done by unit. I started my reading skills and some math skills. And then I lost steam. I have over 2 years worth of good stuff to organize. So my goal is to do a small stack each weekend. I THINK my best option is to first sort everything by subject (this will probably take a weekend or two) THEN break each subject down by skills and begin putting them in the right binders. We will see how it goes.

As you can also see...I go back to work tomorrow (sad face). So I need to finish getting everything ready. BUT I am going to try to keep up with blogging and creating things for my TpT store and I have my to do lists and calendars ready to go!

Join up and add your currently to Farley's Linky!

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