Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mid-Year Tweaks Toward a Smooth Sailing Classroom

Do you ever tweak things mid-year?  I love to reflect on how things are working in my classroom around this time each year.  I've had plenty of time to implement new systems and programs and give them time to work and flow smoothly.  If they're going well, wonderful!  But, if not, I set forth to make some changes.

Last year, around this time I realized that Interactive Notebooks just weren't working in my classroom.  They were taking up WAY too much of my instructional time with non-instructional tasks such as cutting, folding, and gluing.  My solution:  No-Cut Interactive Notebooks!  That's right - no cutting for the students, AT ALL!  Just glue a half page into their notebooks and they're ready to go!

These have literally saved me so much time and sanity this year!  Students are engaged in LEARNING instead of cutting and folding.  I have the growing bundle (10 of 12 notebooks are already completed and ready to download in the bundle) in my shop and it is 28% off with code SMILE during the TpT sale!

Here's a sneak peek at the items included in ONE notebook.  You will certainly be set with math for the year with this set!

A tweak I recently decided to make in my classroom deals with writing.  I realized that if something gets time taken from it during the day, it's often my Writer's Workshop...which breaks my heart!  It's at the end of the day and that's just the way it goes.  So, I wanted to start integrating writing into my science and social studies block even more to ensure that my students are never missing writing opportunities.  I also love to have quick, easy displays ready for the hall, so this was born:  Opinion Writing Across the Curriculum.

This little packet has 11 different topics and includes an anchor chart, planning pages, publishing pages, and display ideas/templates.  Opinion writing for the year - check!  Students just take a stand, provide support, and write their piece!  For example, in the one below, students would choose if Sunny Days, Rainy Days, or Snowy Days Are Best.  At $5.99 (regular price) this packet will be a STEAL during the sale!

And finally, if you're searching for something for your early finishers, this is the perfect piece to implement in your classroom.  Fun Facts Through the Year

There's a set for each month of the year and these amazing facts will engage learners of every age (1st grade through ADULTS!)  They're self-checking and there's a great suggestion for storage included making them easy to take back to seats for independent work! <3  At just $6.99 (regular price) for 10 sets of 24 task cards, your students will be engaged at all times in the classroom!

These are just a few of the items that have helped change my classroom for the better.  Go check out my shop Teacher's Clubhouse during the TpT sitewide sale (November 30-December 1) to see if there's something that will help your classroom run more smoothly for the remainder of the year.  Remember to use code SMILE at checkout!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

12 Books of Christmas Giveaway

I'm excited to be teaming up with 11 other AMAZING bloggers to share some of our favorite Christmas and holiday books in a fun 12 Books of Christmas Blog Hop!  We have some amazing FREEBIES and a giveaway in store for you, so read on!

Each blogger has created a special FREEBIE for you that is centered around his/her favorite holiday book!  Plus, one lucky reader will win a copy of ALL 12 BOOKS!!  What an awesome addition to any classroom collection! <3

I chose the book, How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan.  If you're not familiar with this "How To" series of books, GO FIND THEM!  She hooked me with her very first book, How to Babysit a Grandpa.  The books are hilarious, enchanting, and such great springboards for writing "how-to's" in the classroom!  I was super excited when this new addition was added to the series and knew that I would be using it in my classroom this holiday season.

Near the beginning of the book, it presents things to ASK Santa and things to TELL Santa so I created a questions and statements sort from this.  Then, I will have my students write their own statements and questions that they would like to share with Santa.  Using these sentences, students will write letters to Santa.

And, of course, the book will be a springboard to other holiday "how-to" writings.  I've included pages for 5 other holiday-inspired how-to writings.  Sometimes I have students complete these independently, but I also like to put students in small groups, with each student starting a story with STEP 1 and then rotating the stories around the group with each student adding a step.  This provides a bit of a challenge, since students will need to read what the previous student(s) have written and then plan to continue it.

I hope you can use some of the extensions I created in your classroom, too!  Click the image below to head to my shop to download the freebie!  While you're there, click on the "green follow me" star.  That will be an entry in the rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win the 12 books!! #winwin

Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you hop over to see the amazing Rachel at The Tattooed Teacher, don't forget to jot down my number on the image below! Each blogger in this hop will have a number at the end of his/her post. Collect all 12 numbers along the way, and when you're done, add them all up and enter the total number in the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win all 12 books!

Click on the image above to head over to Rachel's blog!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy hopping!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Halloween Fun in the Classroom

Want to keep your students engaged in learning throughout the month of October?  My new Roam the Room Pack will help you integrate Halloween Fun with rigorous learning.  Let's take a peek..

This set includes 5 ELA and 5 Math Roam the Room activities.  Each activity includes 20 cards, a cover page, a recording sheet, and an answer key.  This pack also includes an interactive Table of Contents, making it a breeze for YOU, the teacher.

You can find the entire pack in my TpT shop HERE.  And, I'm giving one away on my Facebook page right now (winner announced Monday) and one HERE on my blog (at the end).

Here's a closer look at each set included in this pack.
The witch has switched pronouns in sentences and students have to help switch them back to the right pronouns!

Students have to identify abbreviations (think months of the year and abbreviations commonly used in addresses/friendly letters) in order to get the brooms to fly!

Students will record the missing verb tense on each piece of candy corn.

Students will be wrapped up in homophones as they choose the correct words to complete sentences.

Students will practice writing dates three different ways - using words, using abbreviations, and using numbers.

Students will work to find the missing numbers that "vanished" to help balance equations.

Students will find the missing digits on number lines that count by 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's through three-digit numbers.

Students will practice writing times to the half-hour and quarter-hour in different ways (ex. half-past one, one thirty, 1:30).

Students find the missing equation to complete the fact family.

 Students identify the place and the value of underlined digits in two- and three-digit numbers.

Want to WIN this set?  Just leave a comment below with your email address and an idea of what I should be for Halloween this year!  I've done witch, pirate, zombie, 80s girl, vampire...I need new ideas! :)  I'll pick a winner on TUESDAY!  Good luck! 

And, here's a FREEBIE for everyone!  Hop over to my shop to pick it up!  It even works if you can't celebrate Halloween in your classroom. :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Organizing with Cricut {Win Your Own!}

Are you in the new-school-year-gotta-get-organized mode yet?  Let me share with you a few ways that you can use a Cricut to help organize my classroom.  {Don't have a Cricut?  No problem!  See how to WIN one at the end of this post.}

I was so tired of trying to organize all of the headphones in my classroom.  So tired.  They were so big and the cords were always tangled.  I invested in earbuds for each of my students (from Dollar Tree).  I wound each earbud around a spool (from Hobby Lobby) and stored in one of these containers (also from Hobby Lobby).  I cut numbers from vinyl to label each compartment so students would know which earbuds belonged to them (no sharing....ewwww).  Super easy solution to the headphone dilemma!

Each container has 16 slots, so I had to use two containers.  I just labeled them on the cover so students would know which container to use to find their own earbuds.

VIP Table
Another simple solution is to use your Cricut to label an area as a VIP space in your classroom!  This is an area in your classroom for those Very Important People (you know, those students who are showing extraordinary behavior!!) - just decorate a desk or table to make it special and put ALL of your special supplies there for only the VIP's to use (think markers, pens, stickers, glitter glue, white boards, etc)!  Instant motivation.

How would you use a Cricut to organize your classroom?

There are only 2 more weeks to enter the Cricut Back-to-School Giveaway for teachers!!
Have you entered yet??

Each week for 7 weeks they are picking 10 winners for amazing prize packages!!  Entering is super easy!
You can nominate yourself HERE.  And, you can enter EVERY WEEK!!  If you enter, leave your link below so I can find you and give you a VOTE!  Good Luck!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Genre Studies Series: Part 6 {Poetry}

Other Posts in This Series:

During my poetry genre, one of my main goals is to work on reading fluency.  I want to give students some strategies to help them become more fluent readers.  I also want them to see that as they read, read, and re-read a text (or poem), they become more fluent with it.  This will be important as we move on to folktales next. Poetry is also a great tool for teaching so many important literary devices!  As we are reading poems in our classroom, we are also learning to write poems - integration at its best!

We begin our study by reading poems.  I teach my students to think about reading poems - Where should they pause?  What words need to be emphasized?  What words should be read softly?  Students learn to "mark" their poems to practice reading them.  Marking a poem is just as it sounds - drawing marks or letters to remind you of how to read - we use slashes for pauses.  We put one slash for a line break, another slash for punctuation, etc.  Students will put an "s" above words to read softly, or an arrow above a word they want to stretch out.  The options are endless, but they love to add these symbols and create a key for their meanings.  We do several together before they start marking their own poems.  It's fun to see how each child interprets the poems and mark them lets their personalities shine! :)

This is the perfect unit for pulling out our whisper phones.  You can purchase these phones through many educational outlets, or make your own out of PVC piping as I did (well, actually, the hubs made them).  I spray painted them and numbered them just to lessen the germs being spread.  

Students are amazed at how they can read through one end in a whisper voice and then hear themselves so clearly through the other end!  All of my little poets can be reading at the same exact time without disturbing others!

We use a lot of poems from a lot of different places for our poetry unit - dig through all of your resources and make the most of what you already have!  A couple of my favorite resources include:

...the You Read to Me, I'll Read to You books.  These are oh so perfect for partner fluency practice!!  They come in many different genres that I use with my other genre units, too (fables, tall tales, fairy tales)! <3

....the Take Me Out of the Bathtub series.  These poems are make-your-tummy-hurt funny and the kids eat them up!  Plus, they're written to tunes of familiar songs, making it easy for students to find the rhythm for reading them fluently.  #winwin

As, I mentioned, we're also writing poems as we read them.  I like to expose my students to TONS of poetry styles, while also encouraging them to write freestyle poetry.  

Gooney Bird is So Absurd is the PERFECT read-aloud during this time since Gooney's class is learning some of the same poetry styles as my students!  Of course, in perfectly unique Gooney-fashion, Gooney Bird teaches the class to "warm" their brains with unique hats while writing poetry.

We learn to write many, many styles of poetry and students choose their favorite ones to compile into a poetry anthology.  We publish these into books - what special keepsakes!

As we're reading and writing all of this poetry, we're discovering many literary devices.  We create a lot of craftivities to help cement this devices into our brains - let's face it...they're tricky!  These serve as references on our walls, as well as decorations for our "Poetry Picnic" celebration at the end of our unit.

Alliteration with tongue twisters

Onomatopoeia with poetry pops

Rhyming with watermelon rhymes

 More alliteration with allite-rainbows

Vivid vocabulary with vocab baskets

  Similes with Simile Sandwiches

 Personification blooms with our flowers

Rhyming and/or Syllable review with Sandwich Poems

Metaphors with Metaphoric Family Poems

Whew!  We work hard during this genre study!  Of course, we want to showcase all of our hard work, so we invite our families in for a poetry picnic!  We rearrange all of the tables in our classroom, set out all of our projects and a few little treats, and add some finishing touches!

Students add acrostic poem name tents so families will be able to find their seats easily when they arrive.

We add triangle poems to our napkins at our place settings and we're ready for our big event!

Students each get a chance to be in the spotlight as they read some of the favorite poems they wrote during our study.  Our class also performs some of our favorites (from other authors) as a class.

Then, students return to their own desks to share all of their fun projects and poetry anthologies with their families.  What a fun day of celebrating our learning!

 Units I've created to supplement this genre study may be found below.

The Poetry Styles Unit includes a PowerPoint and individual signs of original  poems I wrote for all of the styles that I teach my students.  These are a great model to use when teaching the poetry styles and also serve as a reference throughout their writing.

I also created a second edition called Poetry Styles II as a special request for an intermediate teacher.  I do not use these styles in my classroom, but if you teach upper-grades, you may find it beneficial for your students.

 Poetry Pizzazz includes all of the fun craftivities for literary devices and also templates for publishing the poetry styles I teach.

Weekly Poem work is my newest addition that I am in LOVE with!  This is actually something I now use all year long to spiral poems and reading strategies with my students.  They will be experts at reading fluency in no time with this year-long practice!

I'll be back soon to share my final three genre studies - folktales (fables, tall tales, and fairy tales).