Friday, June 26, 2015

New Blog Series Coming Soon! {Reading Through Genres}

Hi friends!  I am SUPER excited about starting a new series on the blog!  I'll have my toes in the sand next week, but when I return I'm going to launch this series, so I wanted to do a little introduction and see if you had any questions or recommendations for things to include.

In my classroom, I teach reading through genre studies.  I don't use a basal at all and I also don't strictly do guided reading (gasp!).  I know, I know...that's the big trend right now, but it just doesn't work for me!  I teach reading through a workshop approach using genre studies as the focus.  

In my opinion, my number one goal is to get students to LOVE reading!  Let's face it, if they love it they're going to do it!  And, the more they do it, the better readers they'll be!  I can teach them just the basics of HOW to read, but if they don't love it they're never going to do it on their own...isn't that the goal?!?

My philosophy is that I need to "capture their hearts" and once I've done that I can begin to "stretch their minds."  I love the fact that by exposing them to so many different genres, my students are able to find the one that appeals to them.  Let's face it, as an adult I hate reading historical books.  However, I LOVE a good mystery!  There is a type of book out there for each student.  One that they will love.  It's my job to help them find it!  It's also my job to help expose them to other genres and have them explore outside of their comfort zones a bit - this stretches those minds!

Come along with me on this journey as I give you a glimpse into my classroom and how I teach reading through genre studies.  Moving from a basal to genre studies changed my teaching forever.  I also believe it changed my students. <3

Here are the genres I explore with my class:

Reading Strategies {A Foundation Unit}
Tall Tales
Fairy Tales

Through each genre study, students are...
  • learning the characteristics of that particular genre, 
  •  reading books in that genre on their own independent reading levels,
  • hosting a celebration of learning for an audience
Here's a little overview of some of the things that we'll be talking about in this series to give you an overview.

So, let me know what questions you have, what types of things you would like for me to include in my posts, and if this is something you would be interested in trying in your classroom!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#TBT FREEBIE: 35 Animal Goodbyes

I'm joining Primary Polka Dots for Throwback Thursday Freebie over on Instagram today and thought that I would share it here on my blog in case *gasp* you aren't on IG yet.  Each Thursday for the rest of the summer, I'll be sharing a previously shared FREEBIE in case you missed it!

Today I'm sharing my set of 25 Animal Goodbyes.  These are a major hit in my classroom!  I post one per week right inside of our classroom door.  As students leave in the afternoon, they say the first part of the rhyme (ex. See you later) and the rest of the class responds with the second part of the rhyme (Alligator).  It's like our own secret little goodbye and they EAT.IT.Up!  They can't wait to see it change each week and if I forget.....they'll remind me, for sure! 

The one I use on the last week of school says (That's the end) (Sweet friend) and this year my sweet girls said, "Mrs. Madden, that is the sweetest thing ever, but it really breaks my heart!)  Ha!  So, they really did still love each other at that point?! :)

I hope you'll grab them and give them a try in your classroom! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What I'm Wearing Wednesday: {Boutique Alert}

I'm linking up with that always fabulous Jessica from Ideas by Jivey for her...

 If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I've been enjoying the dog days of summer...literally.  My sweet Sampson {Boxer} had to have a little surgery and for the past 16 days I've been playing doggie nurse.  It's been a full-time job keeping him and his sister, Chloe, cooped up in the house with no running and no licking his stitches.

So, for all of the summer so far I've looked like this.

Yep.  A dog pillow.  I've set my alarm (IT'S SUMMER!!!) each morning so I could hit the gym before hubs left for work.  Then, I've just stayed in my yoga clothes....which have quickly become fur-covered and slobber-soaked.

I mean, I've been looking forward to spending days in yoga pants, but this girl also loves to get dressed up!!  I did get dressed up one day to head downtown to a Betsy Pittard {swoon} trunk show - BIG THANKS to my mom for coming to relieve me!  These are the beauties I added to my collection and can't wait to wear soon!

 I'm thrilled to announce that Sampson got his stitches out today!!  This is what I wore to the vet...I've been wanting some deconstructed denim shorts and I *MAY* have ordered these from a fabulous little boutique on Instagram.  What else is a girl to do when cooped up in the house for days on end? :)

I'm not a big shorts fan, but these are amazingly fabulous!  Most days, you'll find me in a dress.  Speaking of dresses, check out this stunning Cozumel dress that I also ordered!

 Gorgeous, right?!?  It will definitely be in my suitcase this weekend for our family beach trip! *swoon*
If you're a boutique lover, you must check out Jess Lea Boutique...I'm so glad I just found them on IG!  Shipping was FREE and so quick (ordered on Friday and had it on Tuesday)!

Go link up with Jessica and show us what you're wearing this summer!  #teachersummerstyle

Monday, June 15, 2015

Makeover Madness {TpT Seller Challenge} & a FREEBIE

I'm jumping aboard the TpT Sellers Challenge for the next few weeks to work hard to improve my reach on social medias.  I'm pretty sure you can tell from the pic above which two I rarely use for teaching related things.  I've actually worked pretty hard to keep my Twitter account for celebrity stalking and #voicesaves but I think that's about to change. :)

The first week challenge is Makeover Madness.  Sellers were challenged to take one of their existing products and to give it a makeover!  I actually did this already last week with our Vowel Units {and bundled them}!

Though, I thought it would be cheating since I actually made those over LAST week!  So, I picked my #2 best selling product to makeover today - Friendly Letter Unit!

Here's a peek at the before...

The content in the product was great, but the "presentation" itself was lacking a bit.  So, I worked on it this morning and have the "new" version posted....

It looks SO much better in my shop now!  And, I think it will be much easier for teachers to use!  I've included an interactive Table of Contents (these are kinda my thing...) - I LOVE just being able to click on an activity and having it take me there, especially in large packs!

I also added lots more description in the product - including pics and links....

If you've already purchased my Friendly Letter Unit, go and download it again to get the revised version!  If you haven't purchased it, it's on sale this week for $3.00!!

And, that vowel unit bundle up there - since it had a makeover, it's on sale, too!  If purchased individually, the vowel packs would cost $25.00, but the bundle is only $18!  And, THIS WEEK ONLY you can grab it for $15 (that's a $10 savings!!).

And, don't forget to pick up our Week 7 FREEBIE while you're in our shop this week!

Happy Summer, friends!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lesson Plan Series {The Planning Calendar}

Is the end of the year a crazy time or what?!  I did not forget about wrapping up this series...I just got caught up in the craziness!  If you've missed any previous posts, you can find them below.

All Posts in This Series:

Once I have my long range plans and units developed, I create a Planning Calendar.  This is like my teaching bible, y'all!  It goes everywhere with me.  I write on it daily.  It is my everything at school. :)

Here's a pic of it in action.   It sits in the very front of my lesson plan binder.  It gives me a glimpse at what units I'm currently teaching (or are coming up next) as well as important dates/events.

You can see that I cross the day off each morning. :)  I created this (years ago) in Microsoft Word.  It's just a table that I merge and fill for my needs.  I begin with our district's calendar and add all of the important dates (such as teacher workdays, report cards, holidays, etc).  Then, I add in other holidays that might be of importance at school and things like daylight savings times...which are important to me.

Then, I add in birthdays for my team members and hall duty (HD) assignments for us.  Once all of these are added, I add in my units of teaching to correlate with the key at the bottom.  This just makes it a really handy, at-a-glance document.

I also add in a flexible "read-aloud" schedule in the top section.  This is totally flexible, but I like to have my read-alouds mapped out for the school year.  I have a small block set aside for read-aloud daily (usually after lunch or recess).  During this time, I'm either reading a chapter book aloud or books by a particular author (and we look for his/her "fingerprints").
 You can download my entire PLANNING CALENDAR HERE.

If you'd like to try to map out your school year with a planning calendar, you can download the Microsoft Word template that I begin with HERE.

I hope this helps as you begin to plan for the new school year!  Happy Planning! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekly Poem Work for 2nd Grade {Week 4 Freebie}

Hi friends!  I just wanted to drop in and make sure you didn't miss this week's FREEBIE!  It's a brand new series and to say I'm excited about it is an understatement. :)

I LOVE poetry.  I've always incorporated poetry into my classroom, but usually I find myself scouring my resources at the last minute to try to find a poem for the week.  No more!  I'm officially writing my own poems for each of the school year for next year!  This will ensure that I have them in place ahead of time, that they're a good level for my kiddos (often they're too easy), and that many of them correlate with my units of study!  I love a good seasonal poem like the next teacher, BUT I want to kill two birds with one stone as much as possible. :)

So....let me introduce you to my Weekly Poem Work {Poetry Stations}.  Each month will have 4 original poems and there will be 7 different activities to go along with each poem. 

The poems will come full-page sized and half-page sized and can be altered to work in a poetry notebook.  But, here's a peek at the various activities that are focused on strengthening reading strategies.

Visualizing:  Using words from the poem to make detailed visualizations.

Expression:  Students learn to mark their poems to help them think about how to read expressively.

Making Connections:  Students write and draw about connections they can make to the poem.

Written Response:  Students respond to the poem in writing with their own ideas or writing prompts (lined and unlined versions included).

Grammar Fun:  Students rewrite the poem "MadLib-Style" for parts of speech practice!

Handwriting Practice:  Students select their favorite line from the poem to write in their neatest printing, cursive, and own original "font."

Word Work:  Students create as many words as they can using the letters from a word in the poem.  More points are awarded for bigger words!

So, what are you waiting for?!  Go grab this week's freebie from our shop and leave us some feedback!

PLUS, we're holding a giveaway on our FACEBOOK page where you can win the GROWING BUNDLE for the entire YEAR!!  It ends on Sunday, so hurry!  If you don't win, the growing bundle is a fantastic deal at 25% off the individual monthly prices.  And, THIS WEEK ONLY we have it set for 50% off!  #winwin

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lesson Plan Series {Organizing Units}

All Posts in This Series:

So, once you have your unit plans written and in a binder.  What now?  How do you organize your units?  As in, the books and supplies...everything that goes with each lesson within that unit.

I used to be old in folders within a file cabinet.  But, things got lost.  Those drawers are just too big for me - they would always end up a mess! :)  I now use my file cabinets for construction paper storage, teacher resource books storage, and center storage.  Here's a peek at my center storage....

So, if I don't use file cabinets, what do I use to store my unit supplies?  See those containers on top of my cabinets?  Bingo!

I have a container for each unit that I teach.  I bought them s-l-o-w-l-y throughout a year.  Each time I would begin a unit, I would buy a few from Big Lots.  By the end of the year I had a wonderful organizational system.  They stack neatly on top of my cabinets and cubbies.

Inside each container is hanging file folders labeled with "Lesson 1", "Lesson 2", etc.  Inside the folders I place anything needed for the lessons - books, master copies, games, etc.  Here's a peek inside of my Reading Strategies container...I use lots of books for this unit, so it's pretty packed!

This makes my life SO easy!  No more looking for the books I need, or scouring through the file cabinet for the masters I's all right there in the unit container.

When I get to a unit, I take that container down and place it on a counter near my desk.  Then, I'll make all of the copies I need for that unit and place them in the folders.  Voila!  I'm set for a few weeks.

So, the containers above are the ones I'm actually teaching from...the ones here will be rotated as I teach.  The containers at the end (with the green lids) are for Word Study.  Since that's the only subject that I plan weekly, those containers are organized by quarters (Quarters 1-4).  Here's a peek inside a Wordy Study container....

You can see that each week's skill has a file folder holding the books, games, etc needed for that week.  I'll also put the weekly spelling tests in here once they're copied.

The best thing about this system is that it is flexible.  If I decide to revamp a unit - no problem!  I can move the materials around easily since the folders are just labeled with "lesson 1", etc.

I hope that gives you some ideas to think about for organizing your unit supplies!  I'll be back soon with a post about my planning calendar!