Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

This post is long overdue!  I have been busy planning a wedding and starting to live a paleo lifestyle over the last couple of months and though I've thought of sitting down to do this thousands of times I just haven't been able to until now.  It's so nice to have the day off of school to catch up on this, housework and some personal reading!  I was also able to finally finish my Introduction to the Civil Rights Movement Unit.  I created this in order to cover Common Core Standard:  Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text. 

The unit is focused on using the FQR reading strategy where students are responsible for listing Facts, Questions and their own Response to non-fiction text.  I just started using this method this year and love it!  It takes a lot of practice and coaching with the little ones but after a couple of practice rounds it's an awesome activity!  I love the fact that that it doesn't just focus on retaining historical facts but challenges students to use higher order thinking skills such as questioning and responding (writing down their reactions, opinions, connection and feelings about texts and historical events).

My class completed most of it last week and they were so interested in the subject and the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges.

If you didn't have time to fit this in before the holiday you can always have your students study it during the month of February!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Election Process!

After we wrap-up our Pumpkin Study tomorrow my kiddos and I are going to start talking about elections.  It reminded me that I wanted to share my unit  The Right to Vote: The History of the American Election Process.  It teaches students about the election process as well as the  history of voters rights in the United States. I planned the unit to meet the Second Grade Common Core Reading Standards RI. 2.3. (Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text. ) My kiddos aren't quite ready to tackle this yet (I taught it around Presidents Day last year) but 3rd-5th grade teachers could easily use it in their classrooms for the upcoming election.

Included in the unit:
-Teaching Guide
-7 Worksheets/Extension Activities
-Assessment Booklet & Rubric (Students summarize information from key points in history)
-Timeline Header and Pieces

You click on the picture to check it out! 

My kiddos will be learning basic information about Presidents, Elections and Voting using a variety of resources I've collected over the years and the Scholastic Election magazines my school provided (which I love!).  One of the great free resources I've found this year are these two BrainPop Jr. videos:


Rights and Responsibilities:

What are doing to gear up for Election Day?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All About Plants!

We just finished up our All About Plants! unit and in order to review for our test we played Jeopardy.  This was fun way to review for the test and it got all of my students talking and working together to figure out the answer.  The group with the highest number of points at the end won a small prize (the real prize was knowledge of course :)

You can get the file here.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Second Grade Super Stars Freebie!

I am finally back and refreshed and rejuvenated after our week long Fall Break! After a quite and calm week in the Smoky Mountains I think that I'm going to like teaching at a year round school! The fall break came just at the right time and I feel ready to tackle Quarter 2.   Since its been soooo very long since I have posted I am going to update y'all on some of the things we've worked on in Writing.

Here is a picture of our Easy as P.I.E bulletin board along with our Even and Odd street from The Teacher Wife.  The board isn't the cutest but I was so proud of my students.  Their work turned out great and they had a really good understanding of the 3 different types of writing we focused on.  You can grab the papers for free here  and read more about Easy as P.I.E here.

Here are examples of all three: Persuasive, Informational and Entertaining

Next up we are working on our Second Grade Super Stars! interviewing unit.  

Students will be paired with a "famous" second grade partner and both will take turns playing the part of journalist and famous person being interviewed.  I've seen a lot of units on TPT where students do this at the beginning of the year but I couldn't find any that had students creating their own questions.  We spent a lot of time after Easy as P.I.E. learning the different between a statement and a question and I really wanted the project to be more rigorous for my students.  So in this version students are the ones who develop the questions they wanted to ask their "famous interviewee"!  We haven't finished the project yet but so far my kiddos have done a great job developing questions and follow-up questions for one word answers.  Having the students develop their own questions should also make our Authors Celebration a lot more interesting since every interview will be a little bit different. I'm excited to find out more about all my Second Grade Super Stars!  You can grab the writing papers here for free!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Real Readers!

I cannot believe that we've already been in school for 6 weeks!  The time has flown!  We have been busy setting up routines, reviewing material and learning a lot of new things.  The thing that I am most impressed with however, is that my kiddos are already starting to become "Real Readers"!  The second week of school I taught an excellent lesson cycle on Metacognition based on Tammy McGregor's book Comprehension Connections:  Bridges to Strategic Reading. 

I also added additional lessons inspired by  Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis.  

My students recognized the difference between "fake" reading and "real" reading so fast!  The anchor chart we created (from Comprehension Connections) has been a helpful reminder but being a "Real Reader" has stuck with most of my kids!  In order to assess their level of metacognition I had the students read a Reading A-Z book that was at their level and write down their thoughts on Post-It notes and then stick it on the page where they had that thought. They were encouraged to write down any and all thoughts that had to do with their book.  They wrote down a ton!  (I think this was because they just love being able to use Post-It's!! :) 

But it was a great way to see their thought process and the different levels of thinking happening in the classroom.  I'm hoping to fit this assessment in every quarter in order to see how they change over the course of the year.  If you'd like to try this out, I've attached the rubric I used which can be altered to fit your class.  Click here to download it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Twofer (Must-Haves and Technology Tip)

This post is going to be a twofer (two for one) because I just couldn't get around to linking up for Teacher Week via Blog Hoppin yesterday.  With the start of the school year, 32 home visits to complete (is anyone else required to do these for their kiddos?) and training for a Triathlon I've been exhausted!  I'm excited that I've finally found time to sit down and share my Must-Haves and my favorite Technology Tip with you!


I know most teachers would probably post coffee if they included any liquid at all in their posting but I try to limit myself to 2 cups a day and then I turn to my trusty, spill-free H20 bottle!  It keeps my hydrated and saves me from having to drink at the school water-fountains (which I have a fear of! :)

I discovered magnetic dots a year ago and I'm now obsessed!  I love turning white boards into bulletin boards with the use of some chart paper for backing and magnetic dots to display resources or student work.  It's so easy to rearrange and change things out!  You also don't have to worry about stapler marks starting to ruin your bulletin board sets or resources.  Love them!
My desktop calendar has been the answer to all my organizational prayers!  Every year I say that I'm going to be extremely organized and every year until I started using one of these I was a mess! So easy to use and always easily assessable in my room.  If you don't have one I urge you to run to the store NOW!
I don't even know what brand the projector I have at school is (which I should because I love it so much!) but it came into my life last year and changed the way I do a lot of things in my classroom!  Speaking of projector is the center of my Technology Tip!

Technology Tip:

My Technology Tip is focused on how to make Morning Calendar more exciting!   I tried for years but couldn't figure out how to do this until I got my projector and saw this video.  As soon as I saw it I knew that I had to incorporate the same thing into my morning calendar instead of having students simply use the math board.  (I do have my students do the Morning Calendar work independently on paper as their morning work but then we use the method showed in the video to review it)  I also show my students at least two videos a day directly afterwards.   We usually watch the same ones for a week or two until I know they have mastered the content or its getting old.  Typically, one videos is on a phonics/reading skill and another on math/science or social studies depending on our focus and the availability of a quality video that's free.  The review and videos together take 10 minutes tops and my kiddos LOVE IT!  Below are some links to FREE interactive websites that you could incorporate in your own Morning Calendar via your projector:


Variety of Different Tools for K-6:


Ten Frame: (there are a bunch of other tools on this site as well!) 

Videos:  I usually just search youtube in order to find what I am looking for and of course always watch them before showing them to students.  Schoolhouse Rock vidoes are always a hit and Between the Lions has some great videos for K-2

Other Tips for Implementation:

  • Save all the links you want to use during Morning Calendar into a Favorites file so they are easy to get to every morning.
  • Open up all the links in different tabs before your day starts so it goes quickly and keeps kids on their toes!
  • Plan out what you are going to saying and how you want students to respond before trying to implement this with students.  It makes all the difference!!

Do you know of any other great resources I could include in my Morning Calendar?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Its All Happening!!!'s actually already happened! Last week was a whirlwind of setting up my classroom, PD and Open House because yesterday was the first day of school!  My school went year-round starting this year so it feels like everything happened at warp speed!  I still can't believe that we have two days of school already under our belts!  I meant to write this post over a week ago so it's focus is on school prep and Open House!  Below are some pictures of my room and an Open House Scavenger House Freebie!

Here's my CAFE Menu Board and a reading incentive program called OH SNAP! by Hope King.  I'm
so excited to try it with my kiddos this year.  Click on the links to check OH SNAP out.  

My classroom jobs board which will be filled with "Sailor Trading" cards once I get a picture of the kids with the sailor hat on.  We have a nautical theme going on but its a little hard to tell just based on decor.  Next to the jobs board is my new Word Wall.

This is my favorite wall by far!  I love my yellow walls paired with the blue bulletin board paper!  Its mostly math resources with maps thrown in.  On the left-hand side is Hope Kings PSA (my classroom is a walking commercial for her stuff so I guess my blogs going to be too! :) 

I love my library!  Once I get a new rug it will be perfect!

  My school is in an old catholic school building and has these amazing built-ins!  The storage in them is awesome but they aren't so easy on the eyes.  This year my class will be voting on there favorite read-aloud and we will be posting the front cover and award here.

My classroom was finished just in time for Open House!  We do ours before the school year even starts.  The last two years I have used the Scavenger Hunt below to help make Open House run smoothly and to avoid having any families standing around not knowing what to do if I'm speaking to another student's parents.  It also helps the kids find important stuff in the classroom and put supplies away (my school has them bring them to Open House which is amazing!)  It's in word so you can adjust it to your needs.  If you have Open House after-school starts you could have students helping their parents complete one while learning about the classroom and seeing examples of their students work.  Let me know what you think or what you do for Open House!  

I'm off to relax for a minute and then call it a night!  First week=early bedtimes for me!