Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Welcome to Fall!

Wow!  What a beginning to the school year.  I have been working so hard to get off to a good school year and have neglected my poor little blog.  So as a way to celebrate the fact that I have made it through the first grading period and to let my followers know that I am still alive - I am offering a fall freebie - Pumpkin Word Work Letters.  I created these to use in my Word Work center for the month of October and November.

Just hop on over to my TPT store to download.
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Thanks for sticking around during my absence.  Let's see if I can keep up once I go back to school tomorrow!  :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Giveaway Celebration!!!I

I have recently reached 500 blog followers and 600 Facebook followers.  Woo Hoo!  So as a celebration and thank you - I am having a giveaway just in time for back to school. Hurry and enter below.  Thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas - Back to School Home Visits

Today I want to share with you one of the BEST back to school activities I have ever been a part of - - - home visits.  I know for many this can be a scary or frightening idea, but it has been such a great way to begin building relationships and trust with my students and their families.  The following is a list of quick tips you can use to help the home visit process go smoothly and be a success for all!

1. Invite the parents to schedule a time to meet.  This way families do not feel like it is mandated that they invite you into their home.  Also, offer an alternative meeting place (like a public restaurant or park) for families to have an option to meet with you somewhere else.

2. Make sure that you schedule the home visits for short bursts of time (15-20 minutes each) so that families feel like they can share with you, but also realize you have a schedule to keep.

3. Make sure you ALWAYS have a partner that visits with you.  Also make sure the school and/or other officials know your schedule.  It is a great idea to check in every so often with the school.

4. Be prepared with a few questions that can lead families to discuss information that you would like to know - but the most important thing during this visit is to just LISTEN.  Take time to really hear what the families are sharing with you.  This is not a time to tell the families what you and your classroom is all about.  It is a time for the family to let you know about them and share their child with you. It may also be a good idea to take paperwork that you would like to have them complete and leave it with them to return to you on the first day of school.

5. Be an advocate within your school.  Invite other teachers to join in the process.  It may take a while, but soon others will see the benefits and how well you have established relationships with students and parents. Hopefully it will become a tradition for your school and then the whole community benefits!

If you liked this idea, please consider following me on Facebook, Pinterest,  or TPT.

To read about other Bright Ideas, check out the links below or follow the Bright Idea Pinterest Board.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Planning for Next Year

Well, here I sit pondering how in the world it is already the middle of July.  Where has this summer gone? It's been a great one here.  Moved into our new home, took a mini vacation, presented and attended several professional development sessions, and both of my kids have camps this month.  I guess being so busy makes the time seem to fly.

I've been thinking a lot about how I want improve for next year.  One of my major goals is to be organized in one binder - lesson plans, grades, calendar, standards, and units.  The past couple of weeks we have been working on re-developing our math and reading units, which has helped me to be organized already.

I want to share with you my teaching binder for 2014-2015.  I'm so excited to already have this put together!

The first thing I did was scour TPT looking for a planning binder that fit my needs and planning style.

I came across this great editable one by Ashely McKenzie

Next, I edited it to fit my needs and uploaded it to Best Value Copy to have it printed in color, hole-punched, and spiral bound. It turned out fabulous!!!  I then added it to a 3 ring binder and labeled each section.

The teacher planner includes a lesson plan template, a section for grades, and a calendar.

I then added my yearly editable curriculum map (purchased from Traci Clausen), copies of our updated reading and math units, and the Common Core ELA and Math Standards.

I feel really good about starting off the new school year in an organized manner.  Now to keep it that way all year long!  :)

So tell me, what are some of your back to school organization must haves????

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reading in the Wild - Creating a Workshop Schedule

Hello everyone. I hope you are enjoying our book study so far. The section we are discussing today is something I've been trying to figure out for a while now - creating a workshop schedule. I was so excited to be able to read about someone else's experience and study how they structure their day. I've decided to approach this section in the following way - what are the major questions that Donalyn Miller asks, what piece of advice does she offer for each question, and how can I apply this in my classroom. Hopefully the results will lead me to a newly created and useful workshop schedule. Here we go...

1. How much class time do I have?
Remember to take into account all of the things in your day (lunch, specials, etc.) that demand your students time. Also consider any special programs, rules, or emphasis your school may require. 

My students will receive 80 minutes of a core ELA block that should cover all of the ELA standards - this means reading, writing, language, foundational skills, and listening-viewing-speaking. We also have a 40 minute flexible reading block for interventions, extra practice, and enhancements. The rest of my time is pre-determined by a master school schedule. 

2. Which instructional components am I required to include?
Think about the types of programs, textbooks, intervention requirements, assessments, or student grouping strategies that your school/district require and remember you must try to find time for them in your schedule. 

Thankfully I do not have a specific program or textbook that I MUST implement. I have standards that I must teach, but I am given the opportunity to choose text, strategies, and best practices that work for my students. We do use a school wide fluency, comprehension, and writing assessment for data review purposes and I incorporate those assessments when needed. 

3. What can I change to make time for independent reading?
The author states her core belief that students should be reading everyday. To make sure this happens, she evaluates her time and activities to make sure she has reading time daily. The long term benefits of daily reading often out way the short term benefits of particular activities. 

This is something I did much better at last year and as a result I could see my students love for reading to continue to grow. I also saw them make more connections to content and strategies we were learning. 

4. Remember the rule of thirds. 
The text suggests splitting your class time into thirds. One third for independent reading, conferring, and small groups. Another third for guided practice, and the last third for independent practice. The author covers her curriculum in genre units and alternates with writing as needed. 

I like the idea of breaking my time into these designated segments.  I'm thinking that if I keep this in mind, it will help clarify while I am planning. I know that I have a 80 minute core block for instruction. This block is split into a 60 minute section before specials and a 20 minute section after specials. I already know that the 20 minute section will be time for word work (phonics/vocabulary). So I want to focus my workshop time within the first 60 minutes. My schedule will look like this:

20 minutes - guided instruction mini- lesson
20 minutes - independent/small group practice
20 minutes - independent reading time

I will alternate my mini-lessons and practice activities between reading and writing as needed. 

Donalyn Miller suggests (and I agree) that the focus must be on authentic learning opportunities for our students. Everyone's schedule will look different due to time restraints and requirements, but if we focus on best practices and become reflective teachers - we can do this!

Check out what everyone else has to say about this section of the book for more ideas on creating a workshop schedule that works for you.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright ideas - reuse laminated items

So if you're like me, you have several items in your classroom that are laminated. I use all kinds of decor and charts to keep up with data and student progress.

The problem with writing on these items with a dry erase marker is that it wipes off too easily, so I started using a sharpie. 

An easy trick to help you reuse these items instead of buying new ones each year - Magic Eraser will clean sharpie right off a laminated item. 

All it takes is a little time and elbow grease and your laminated items will be perfectly restored to begin a new school year this fall!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, check out another bright idea post about keeping clutter out of student desks, my Facebook page, or my TPT store

Also, for other bright idea posts from great teacher bloggers, check out the link up below. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reading in the Wild - Bookstudy update

We have some AMAZING bloggers and non-bloggers joining us over the next 7 weeks, and I cannot wait! Check out the hosts for each of the chapters/sections and make sure to follow them, so you don't miss anything. :) If your a blogger, awesome! Join us each week by linking up your posts/ideas. If you're not a blogger, that's great, too! You can read/follow and comment. We want to hear your advice, thoughts, and ideas for the classroom, too. The more teachers we have joining, the more amazing our classrooms will be this fall! 

Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read (June 19th)

Chapter 1: Creating a Workshop Schedule (June 26th) *This is a SUPER short section (only 4 pages), but a great chance to share/showcase your workshop schedule and sneek a peek at classrooms all over the world!*

Chapter 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material (July 3rd)

Chapter 2: Curating a Classroom Library (July 10th)

Chapter 3: Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Others & Conferring: What's the Point? (July 17th)

Chapter 4: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans (July 24th)

Chapter 5: Wild Readers Show Reading Preference (July 31st)

Aren't you excited? It's going to be a great few weeks! I'll see you back here on Thursday morning. :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

End of the Year

So last Friday marked the end of the school year for me with my wonderful 3rd graders.  I do have to say that I shed some tears as I said my last afternoon goodbye to them.  I will miss them so very much! I have been so blessed to spend the past school year with them and their families. So, I decided to share with you how we spent our last week together. Enjoy!

Our Medieval Fair

Play Day 2014

And... a field trip 

A great last week of a wonderful school year!