Budding Bloggers Showcase {Misha from FRANtastic 2nd Grade}

Today, I'd like for you to meet Misha.  She has just started her blogging journey after 25 years of teaching! She teaches 2nd grade and has a ton to share!  Read on to meet Misha and then hop over to her blog and leave her a warm welcome message.  We're glad to have her as a part of our blogging community now!

Hello Fellow Bloggers! 
I am so excited to have my blog, 
'FRAN'tastic 2nd Grade
featured on Amanda's page!

about me...

My name is Misha Frander. I am a 2nd grade teacher in Alabama, and I have been teaching for 25 years! I have been blogging for almost two months. After 25 years...
What made me decide to start my blog? 
I'm not really sure, but I am so glad I did! 

I am married, with 4 children, a son-in-law, and 3 fur babies.
My Sweet Family

favorite subject to teach...

My favorite subject to teach is READING! As much as reading instruction has changed over my 25 years in the classroom, it still gives me an unbelievable feeling when I look into a child's eyes as they realize they have reached reading goals they never thought were attainable. :) There is nothing better, for a teacher.

if you walked into my classroom...

You might be surprised! You would see a lot of BOUNCING!

Yes...We swapped our traditional classroom chairs for Ball Chairs this year! After a few weeks I could really see a difference in those very active students and even those strugglers. 
I even used one as a chair at my small group reading table. :)
It's the best thing EVER! 
I encourage you to do a little research on the SWAP, if your aren't familiar with studies on the expected outcomes.

Or...You might see my students completely engaged, while reading on a Mac Book from our Mobile Mac Lab.

"those" days... 

No doubt about it...THESE amazing ladies get me through "THOSE" days!  My grade level friends are the BEST!

Visiting our new classrooms       WET FEST 2014 (field day)

We will all be moving to our new 2nd grade wing at 
the Primary School before the school year begins.

that "MUST" teaching resource...

I would have to say my Smart Board is my favorite teaching resource. What did we do before we had technology in our classrooms?

my favorite classroom activity...

I love our annual Math & Science Day
This is actually a school-wide activity where teachers make arrangements for a presenter to be in their classroom to do a math or science activity or experiment. Students rotate through their grade level's classrooms. Students love the exploration and hands-on activities they get to be a part of during this day.

my blogging goal...

Since I have only been blogging for a few months...I just hope to keep up once school starts back. :)
I guess my goal is to post daily. I take a lot of pictures, and we do a lot of great activities. I hope to share all of them!

last, but most certainly not least...

a shout out to my Auburn Tigers...


My Teacher Friends & Auburn Football!

                    Toomer's Corner with the Husband!                        Auburn / Alabama 2013


Let the Halloween Hunt Begin!

I had so much fun this summer with the Blog Hoppin' Scavenger Hunt!  It was something that the family and I took on together.  It was so much fun to search for silly little things around town and act a bit goofy together.  ;)  I also found a lot of new friends to follow on Instagram because of it.  Win-win!  I'm a game girl anyway.  Whenever we have family get-togethers you can bet that there is a game or scavenger hunt waiting for everyone.  So, the idea of a digital scavenger hunt hooked me right away! 

I knew that I wanted to take this idea and apply it to my favorite holiday.....HALLOWEEN!!  At first, I thought I would just create one for my "real-life" friends, but then I thought I would open it up to everyone and anyone.....the more the merrier scarier!

So, I introduce to you....the Teaching Maddeness Halloween Hunt!

The concept is simple.  Download the list of 100 spooky things to find (at the end of this post) and then....

1) Snap a pic when you find one of the items.  Make sure you include a sign in your picture that says "#TMHalloweenHunt" - you can use one of the signs provided in the download, create your own, or simply jot it down on your hand, a post-it note, or anything else you have handy at the time.

2) Upload your picture to Instagram with the hashtag (#TMHalloweenHunt) included in the caption.

3) Also include your own unique hashtag that you'll use for every hunt photo you upload (ex. #AmandasHunt2014 or #AmandasRockintheHunt, etc.)  This will be used to verify winning entries.

4) You may find it helpful to number your photos as you go to track how many items you have found.

Other notes....

* Past or "found" photos may not be used (hence the need for the sign with #TMHalloweenHunt)  Photos without this will not be counted.

* Each item should be in a separate photo, but photos may be combined into a photo collage (see below) so they don't fill your Instagram feed. 

* All entries must be submitted on Instagram by 11:59 EST on October 31, 2014.

* Participants who find at least 50 items from the Halloween Hunt list will be eligible to win one of the prizes.  Winners will be selected randomly from those eligible.

* Prizes will be announced on October 1, but teachers may go ahead and begin the hunt starting TODAY (September 26)! 

* Teaching Maddeness may post extra items on social medias throughout the Halloween Hunt, so be sure to follow Amanda on Facebook and Instagram for the chance at these "extra" points.

In fact, here's your first chance for a BONUS POINT...share the pic from my Instagram of the Halloween Hunt.  That's it!  Share that pic and you've earned your first point!  Don't forget to caption it with your hashtags!

DOWNLOAD all files from Google Drive HERE.
DOWNLOAD all files from Dropbox HERE.



Maximizing the Minutes Mini Series {Reading}

Hi friends!  My "I'm Lovin' Homework" Blogging Mini-Series was such a hit this summer, I knew I wanted to do another mini-series and I also knew just the thing I wanted to blog about....Maximizing the Minutes in your classroom.

All Posts in This Series:

How many times have you thought to yourself, "My students need more practice with word problems, but I have no time to squeeze them in," or "I know my students need work on reading fluency, but a day here and there isn't going to be very beneficial" - well, I'm here to show you how I'm maximizing the minutes in my classroom to get the most out of a small amount of time.

Let's face it.  We have jam packed days.  There are no more minutes to squeeze in an extra "block" of time or extra days into our units.  We're at our limit!  So, I had to come up with another plan.  I challenged myself to give up the first 5-7 minutes of each subject daily to fit in those important concepts that students can always use more practice with and I'm already seeing the benefits.

Today will be all about how I maximize the minutes in reading.  My goals in reading were to

1) Improve word fluency with all of my students

2) Spiral review all of our reading strategies and story elements

To do this, I use the first 5-minutes of my reading block daily.  5 minutes.  That's it folks.  Very realistic.

To reach goal #1, I use Whole Brain Teaching's Super Speed 1000.  If you are not familiar with this FREE resource, hop over and grab it...it's FREE!


Here's the gist of it.  Students work in pairs and each pair is given a list of the most frequently used 1000 words in reading.  These pairs are assigned with one stronger reader and one weaker reader.

I have my readers sit side by side and use their reading fingers to track the words.  My students know that when we use partners in my classroom, the partner whose birthday comes first in the year goes first.  No arguing.  That's the rule.  That person starts by reading the first word and they alternate reading words for 1-minute.  At the end of the minute, they mark their spot.  Then, they switch and the other person starts reading first, alternating words.  This second try ensures that both students read ALL of the words.  At the end of this second minute, they see if they beat their first mark with an "all time best."  If so, they give high-fives!

If a student stumbles on a word or is unsure of a word, the partner assists (which is the benefit of partnering a weaker reader with a higher reader).  After the two tries, students see how far they got.  If they passed a "zinger" they get to cross out five words at the start of their list to advance their starting position the next day.  If two "zingers" are passed, ten words would be crossed out.  (Zingers are the made-up, underlined words on the Super Speed 1000 word list page.)

That's it...easy peasy sight word fluency and it takes EXACTLY two-minutes per day. Here's a little video of two of my girls showing you how Super Speed 1000 works.  They're not really partners in my classroom (just volunteering to be filmed here) and it's dismissal time, so sorry about the excess noise!

My reading block begins right when we return from related arts, so students know to enter the classroom, grab their reading folders (which also contains their super speed 1000 page) and to head to their partner spot.  Whatever spot partners chose on the first day become "their spots" - this eliminates the time it takes to find a spot every day.  Super quick!

Also in students' reading folders are the amazing little comprehension pages by Jodi Southard.  The stories are short and quick to read and the skills are broken into short and sweet sections for five days.  Perfect for my goals.  I copied all of these at the beginning of the year to create folders so that students are set for the YEAR!

After the two-minutes of Super Speed 1000, students work with their partners on the weekly story in their reading folders.  On Mondays, they read the story together and complete the Day 1 skill section.  Then each of the following days, they reread (as needed) and complete that day's skill....I love that these address so many standards in such a short amount of time.  This task takes 2-3 minutes for students to complete each day.

That's a LOT packed into our first 5-minutes of our reading block.  Maximizing our minutes to the fullest!  Just imagine the impact of this DAILY practice throughout the year!  Come back next week to see how I maximize the minutes in a different subject.


Reading Strategies

I always start the year off with a reading strategies unit.  I love getting my students to think about what their brains are doing while they're reading.  Connecting.  Visualizing.  Questioning.  Inferring.  Synthesizing.  Determining Importance. 

Here's a peek at a few of the activities we've been working on the last few weeks.

We have been making connections with every book we can get our hands on!  Text to Self, Text to Text, and Text to World.  We love sharing our connections and this visual lets us see the kinds of connections we make the most.

We've also been using our reading brain to visualize.  We love using this Jack Prelutsky poem to visualize.  First, we read the first two stanzas and visualize and then we finish the poem and visualize again.  It's great to see how our image changes.  The glasses on this craftivity provide the perfect spot to jot down those words that help us paint our mind pictures.

One of our favorite visualizing activities was from our Hashtag Granny packet.  I introduced "my granny" to students and then we talked about hashtags.  Boy, were they able to visualize what granny would be doing when they read her hashtags!  I mean...seriously?  How cute is the rollercoaster-ride-with-hands-in-the-air pic for #bestdayofmylife?  Or the picture of granny in her younger days at the prom in the #throwbackthursday pic??

We also dug deep into thinking about words.  Which words help us visualize and which don't - why?  This really helped students pick out the important details in stories.

We put all of the pieces together and practiced using details from stories to show the events.

To wrap up our study on thick and thin questions, we held a Fairy Tale Talk show.  After reading Snow White, I invited the characters to our classroom for a question and answer session.  You had no idea I had these types of connections, did you??  Let's just say the kids LOVED writing thick questions to ask our guests...and they also loved dressing up as the guests to practice ANSWERING those questions.  Some of their questions and answers were precious.  This little guy ^^ cracked us up as Grumpy. :)

One of the stories we've read while trying to uncover the author's message is Stephanie's Ponytail.  Boy do we love some Robert Munsch!  Students had lots of connections to make with this story and they found lots of ways to apply the message of "it's okay to be different" in their own lives.


Halloween Hunt {Sneak Peek}

I feel like it's been forever since I've blogged!  I have stuff to share and am finally getting into the groove of this school year!  I'll be back TOMORROW with a content post, but I wanted to drop by today for a quick sneak peek.

It's almost my FAVORITE time of year....Halloween!!!!!  I love every single thing about this holiday.  Scary movies...anyone else dying to see Annabelle??  Dressing up...who doesn't want to pretend they're someone else for a while?  Haunted trails....is it weird that I like to put myself right on the verge of a heart attack?  Spooky stories....the creepier the better!  And, now...Halloween Hunts!

I had SO much fun with the Blog Hoppin' scavenger hunt this summer that I knew right away I wanted to create a Halloween Hunt!  I really created it for my real-life friends, but then I thought...the more the merrier scarier!  So, I'll be posting all the deets right here on my blog on Friday!  Drop back by to see how you can participate and win some of the amazing prizes {over $200 value}!  You may want to go ahead and follow me on INSTAGRAM which is where all of the fun will happen.


Budding Bloggers Showcase {Christa from Sweet Life of Second Grade}

Hey Everyone! I am Christa from Sweet Life of Second Grade.

I was super excited when I heard Amanda was doing her Budding Blogging Showcase Series again. I have been blogging since April 2012, but I switched grade levels so blogging has kind of been hit or miss. I always have good intentions...taking pictures of all the cool things we do in class, but just never blog about it. I have quite a few blog drafts that have some pretty cool pics and ideas to share, but they just sit there not completely finished.  Instead I chose to stalk many of my favorite blogs and look and read about all the amazing things they do!! 

I am a northern California girl...born and raised!! I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in another state, but I love that California gets the four seasons.

I have been with my husband for 16 years!! We were actually set up by one of my student's parents. We were going to meet at a school function, but it rained on the day of the event so they cancelled it. They decided to give him my number. And guess what?? He called me, we went out to dinner, and have been together ever since.  He is an amazing guy, but sometimes doesn't get why I do so much for my classroom (decorating, cool lessons, fun projects, spending money). But he is still very proud of me and I appreciate that!!!

This is my husband and I at our first South Carolina Gamecocks game earlier this year!! I went to school
at  UC Davis and do not ever remember tailgating. OMG!! South Carolina knows how to tailgate!!

This year I am looping with my first graders back to second grade. I am super excited because they are an amazing group of kids!! I can't wait to see how much they grow and learn this year. What is even more amazing is they will be the class that I begin my 20th year of teaching with. I can not believe I have been teaching for 20 years! I have taught 2 years of 6th grade, 3 years of 4th grade, last year was my first year in first, and this year will be my 14th year in second. I think the only grade left I want to try is third grade.
20 years ago I met these wonderful ladies when I began my first teaching job! This is last year at Chris' retirement party.
Chris(left) taught 3rd grade and Arlene (middle) was the most amazing school secretary ever!! That's me on the end.

I used to say that my favorite subject to teach was math because I loved math when I was growing up.   I also love that you can turn pretty much anything in to a game. But...after this year... I think reading is my favorite subject to teach...especially in first grade. It was so amazing to see the lightbulb go on and all of the growth that happens throughout the year. 

If you popped into my classroom on any given day you would definitely hear me first because I am known for my loud voice! My hubby keeps reminding me that I need to learn how to whisper. Ha ha like that is ever going to happen. So as you walked into my room you would definitely see a lot of working going on. Some kids may be with me in a small group, others working with a small group, or some kids working by themselves. If it was in the morning you would definitely see us knee deep in our Daily 5 routines. This year there will definitely be some changes since my grade level partner and I received a tech grant. We will each have 15 iPad minis and will be diving into some Project Based learning for our Social Studies and Science time. 

And what do you think gets me through one of those tough days???? Ha, ha …at school there is a lot of Diet Coke and definitely chocolate involved!! Of course, a little dance music and silliness with my grade level partner also helps when the kids are out of the room!! If it is a Friday…then happy hour of course!!!

One teaching resource that I can not live without is books or should I say my classroom library!! I love books! I love to read to my class and I love to hear them read. I must have over 50 large basket of books in my classroom. I have 2 walls that are all lined with book shelves...at least 6 of them are over 6 feet tall!!!

We keep pretty busy throughout our day. I always think I could use another hour or so in our school day. We start at 8 and end at 2! I try to set clear and high expectations for all of my students, be as consistent as I can, and make learning as fun as I can. I want my kids to love coming to school. I am always searching for new ideas or ways to make lessons even better. I think I have done a pretty good job of that throughout the years! I actually love the end of the year because that's when we do Open House. I usually do a big theme and go all out. I have done the Amazon Rainforest, Space, Insects, the Ocean, Kelp Forest, and Gold Rush. I love it because so much learning and creating is going on. The kids love to see the room completely transform into something else!! They are so proud when they show it off to their family. 

LOL...I just need to stick with it. I start out strong and then fizzle out. I would love to post at least once or twice a week, but life just takes over. I love meeting all of the wonderful bloggers and seeing what they do in their classrooms so it would be great if I could share my classroom more often!!

Thanks for sticking around and reading to the end! Thanks Amanda for letting me share a little bit about my life and my blog. Hope you come on by for a visit!!

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