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: http://www.brainpopjr.com/socialstudies/citizenship/rightsandresponsibilities/

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 which.....my 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:  http://www.windsorct.org/wpselemmath/eManipulatives.htm


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  http://pbskids.org/lions/videos/.

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!!!

Well...it'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!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Easy as P.I.E!

This year I really want to improve my writing instruction along with reading, science, social studies well,.........everything else!   Last year, things were a little lack-luster in our writing workshop-to say the least!  So I just finished whipping up some brainstorming and writing papers that I'm going to use during the first couple weeks of school to introduce Authors Purpose. You can grab these for free at my TPT store by clicking on the picture below.

Students will learn what it means to Persuade, Inform and Entertain, write a piece for each purpose and then select which piece they want to publish.  I'm going to use the papers in conjunction with Hope Kings awesome and free Author's Purpose packet.  I love all of her stuff over at 2nd Grade Shenanigans!

I'm hoping that by introducing this early on my students will be thinking about Authors Purpose every time we read and write throughout the year!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Liebster Love

Good Morning!  I wasn't planning on posting anything today but I woke up to find a great surprise in my inbox! Shelly from Smiling & Shining in Second Grade nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award!  Thank you so much Shelly!  I am thrilled to even be nominated and so excited that in the last 2 days I've gained 12 followers! Below you can find the 5 new bloggers that I am nominating for this award.

First:  Inside this Book-This blog focuses on reviewing books for teachers.  What a great resource!

Second: Tales From Room 112 -Check out her post on the 7 Habits of Healthy Kids

Third: I Want to be a Super Teacher- I love the name of this blog! 

Fourth: Psyched to be in Second-Gotta love her enthusiasm!

Fifth:  Elementary Adventure-Check her out here!

These five bloggers will now need to pass the award on to 5 other bloggers with less than 200 followers, link back to the blogger who gave the award and paste the award on to their blog.   

Thanks again Shelly! Hope everyone has a great Wednesday!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Must Have Picture Books

I've never joined a linky party before but I just knew that I had to be part of the Must Have Picture Book Linky that Lindsey at the Teacher Wife put together.  What a great idea!! It's so hard to narrow it down to only five but here are the five that I just adore and MUST read every year.

The Teacher Wife

You can do so many different things with Strega Nona and I have used it to teach many different skills over the years.  My favorite thing to do however, is to make the book "interactive" by writing the words to the pasta spell on a piece of chart paper before the reading and posting it by the reading area.  When its time to say the spell in the story my students love singing the words and blowing three kisses into the "cauldron" in front of them.  I, of course, love watching them do this even more!  You can buy a copy here.

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is such a fun book. It's a great way to compare and contrast versions of a story or to introduce point of view.  Grab it here.

This is a wonderful and heartwarming story thats full of imagination but that also teaches about responsibility.  The pictures in it are just beautiful.  You can read more about it by clicking here.

Thundercake is perfect for a stormy day especially if you have kiddos that are scared of thunder.  In the story the grandmother helps her granddaughter face and overcome her fear of thunder.  There's also a recipe in the back for Thundercake that my students always make me photocopy for them - so they can make it at home the next time it storms out.   Pick up your copy here.

Whoever Heard of a Fird is my favorite picture book of all time.  But I just now discovered that it is out of print :(   I was hoping to buy a new copy this year because the one from my childhood is falling apart but it doesn't look like that will be happening since collectors editions are the only ones available and $100+ dollars.  Does anyone else know this book?  Anyone have connections in the publishing world to get this printed again?  It is a wonderful adventure full of magical creatures and songs.  The book contains a number of great lessons on the following topics: individuality, determination, family, friendship and acceptance.  Read more about it here and let me know if you can get this back in book stores! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

School Mode

I'm finally "back" in school mode (well.....almost!) and have completed another student study guide for Dinosaurs Before Dark.  I am so excited to use this with my incoming kiddos!  It's in the same format as my other study guides with questions and vocabulary included for every chapter.  Click on it below to get it from my TPT store.

Besides that, I've been busy working on lesson cycles and assessments to use in first quarter.  I have a good start so far and I'm hoping to begin the school year with everything for Q1 finalized.  I also found out that my building is ready so, I can get in two weeks earlier than expected!  I am so excited! Originally, we were only going to have 2 days to get our classrooms ready before Open House and now I have 2 1/2 weeks!  I'll be posting more once I'm in and begin to organize things.  Now I'm off to get brunch (I just love brunch) with some great friends!  Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guided Reading

The first thing that I am going to work on this summer (after my little vacation/work ban!) will be to create a couple more study guides for my kiddos that are coming in next year who can independently read short chapter books.  Below are a couple that I created last year which my students used in the middle/end of the year.   My students just loved them and it was a great way to hold them accountable during independent reading, especially because I often cannot get to my highest groups everyday! (I have 32 students so try as I might, I never have enough time to meet with all my groups)  Our Guided Reading meetings became more of a book club but I was able to keep the discussion on track and meaningful with the use of study guides.

 Just click on the images below to check them out on TPT and be on the lookout new ones....coming soon!

Summer Reading

Hi Fellow Bloggers and Teaching Fanatics!  I'm excited to be starting my own blog now that school is  finally over (our last day with the kids was Friday)!  I don't have too much time to take a complete break from the teaching world though because we are going year-round next year and the kids come back on August 6th!  Sooo....I have a lot of planning and preparation to do in the next month!  I have decided however, that for the next 5 days the only school related activity I'm allowing myself to engage in is blog-stalking and summer reading.  This summer I decided to focus on comprehension strategies and just got the following books in the mail:

Comprehension Connections:  Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tammy McGregor

Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis 

I can't wait to dig into them! Last summer, I read these great titles which helped me structure my reading block in a way that was very successful this year:

The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literary Assessment and Instruction by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Revisiting the Reading Workshop: Management, Mini-Lessons and Strategies by Barbara Orehovec and Marybeth Alley

What are you reading this summer?  I'm always looking for titles to add to my list!