Monday, January 25, 2016

Snow Day!

Well it's been cold here in FL for the past few days. I mean nothing compared to the rest of the country... but cold enough.

Unfortunately, the rest of the country has been getting snow days left and right, while us Floridians are all like... 

wait... where's my gloves and scarf because it's 55 degree out and I'm freezing! 

Classroom snow day fun

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reviewing Procedures with Officer Buckle and Gloria

The first week back after Winter break is always a hard one... the kids are not *quite* back in the routine of school, and let's face it... neither is the teacher!


We started the week off with a complete review of all our classroom expectations and procedures.  Before break we were getting a little lax on our classroom policies. Even the teacher!  The start of a new year is a perfect time to refresh and update! 

To review, I pulled our classroom expectations posters to the front of the room. We went through each expectation and discussed what it is and what it is not. We also had a few friends "act out" some of our do's and don'ts. 

(Like these classroom expectation signs? Find them here!) 

No Ninja moves... 

See where I'm coming from? We REALLY needed this review! 

To keep the safety chat going, we also read the book, "Officer Buckle and Gloria"

Don't you just love this dynamic duo? 

Part of our close reading of this book was also look at character responses to events and challenges in the story.   

So, after reading the story, students wrote a short response in their Reading Response Journals on how Officer Buckle changed through out the story. 

If you're not familiar with Reading Response Journals, you can check out more posts about them here. I love these spirals!  They are very flexible as to what we include. 

This was a quick spot check for me. As students finished, I walked around and discussed their answers. A check plus meant they demonstrated understanding. Super quick and easy way to spot check our comprehension. 

One of the biggest themes in "Officer Buckle and Gloria" are those funny safety tips, so we used the story as a launching point for an opinion writing piece on what we thought was the most important safety tip. 

To complete this activity, we first brainstormed safety tips from the story, as well as rules in our classroom. Then, students choose one rule to write about. 

I guided students through supporting their position by using details. We kept our thoughts organized using this brainstorm sheet.

The next day, we used our brainstorm to create a rough draft of our opinion piece. Our main focus was to have a clearly stated opinion, three details to support our opinion, and a concluding statement. 

Once students finished their rough drafts, they found a buddy to edit their writing.  

Did I mention how much I LOVE buddy editing? It's like a nice comb through before you get to the knots.  Using a buddy to edit our writings allows me to focus on word choice and support as students meet to edit. All the simple stuff like capitals and ending punctuation  are usually taken care of. Thank you! 

If you'd like to know more about how I run writing in our classroom, you can check out this post

Once we were all edited up it was time to publish! Students rewrote their final drafts on fun publishing paper. 

To complete their project my second illustrated their "Most Important Safety Tip" on a star shaped paper, just like Claire!

Multiple meaning words was also a focus for us! To review, I pulled out this fun center from my "Snow Days" pack. 

Before playing, we review that some words have more than one meaning. Then we brainstormed a quick list of words. After discussing their meanings we were ready to play! 

To play this center as a whole group game, I had students sit on the rim of my carpet. Then, I passes out an iceberg sentence piece to one side of the carpet. The other side got a penguin word card. 

We took turns reading the iceberg sentences. Students matched the penguin word to the correct sentence, then placed the pair in the middle. 

Later in the week, I worked this into our reading centers. It made for much easier playing as students were already familiar with most of the words. 

For my third graders last year, I cut the iceberg sentences apart. This made the activity much more challenging. For centers, I pulled that version out for my higher achieving group. 

Now it is time for me to head to B.E.D. This teacher is tired! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Year's Resolution Tab Book 2016

Whew! I've finally made it to winter break! I'm not sure how I got here in one piece, but I did! I hope you made it too! 

New Year's Resolution tab book FREEBIE

For the past few years, on the first day back from Winter Break, I've had my kids work on their own New Year's Resolutions. This year will be no different. Seconds need to goal set, too! 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Creating Digital Posters with PicKids

So this is only my second year using IPads in the classroom, but I am hooked! I'm pretty sure my kids are too! ;) I'm here to share another app that I've found to be SUPER user friendly (read: easy for kids AND teachers to navigate) but also with endless uses in the classroom!

Have you heard of this app? PicKids is the kid friendly version of PicCollage. If you're not familiar with either of these, think of them as photo-editing apps on steroids. LOADS of stickers, add ins, and everything in between. Did I mention it's free? Yeah... SCORE! 

So how can you use a photo editing app in your classroom? Well... soo many ways I promise, but I'll share how we've used it in our room first! 

Remember, back-in-the-day, your teacher would hand you a white poster and you had to create a poster to display some sort of information? Well... we used PicKids to take poster making into the digital age! 

After learning all about the different stages of the water cycle, it was time for my kids to flex their creative muscles and create a digital poster of the water cycle. 

To familiarize my kiddos with this app, I went briefly through how to add a background, text, and photos from the internet through the app. (Don't worry, my district has great filters! So I don't have to worry too much about my kids coming across anything inappropriate on their image search.)  I also showed the kiddos how to add stickers to their posters to add a little pizzazz! 

This app makes it super easy to add elements by having them all in one place! Just click the + sign and touch what you'd like to add! 

Then, it was time to review our poster requirements. We need to know what we're making, right? Our requirements for a completed project were simple. 

Student's posters needed to include: 
-a title
-a background
-the three stages of the water cycle to be labeled (bonus for run off!) 
- pictures for each of the stages
-arrows to show how water moves through the cycle.

I also showed a sample that I had already made. I've found my kids this year really need a visual to refer back too, unlike my thirds who would prefer to make it more their own. 

Then we were ready to start creating. I only have 5 IPads in my classroom at a given time, so I split my students into groups of 3. Each student was required to complete one stage of the water cycle. 

First, students worked to add a background. Most students choose something to do with water...

Then, they added elements like clouds, rain, and water vapor. 

Here's a peek at a few of our finished projects! 

The kids LOVED this project!

My biggest concern was time, though! It took use about 45 minutes to finish these digital posters. So plan accordingly, the kids DID NOT WANT TO STOP! LOL! 

A few of my students who finished early wanted to make other posters, too... 

Loved this condensed version of the life cycle of a tree! 

Here's a few other ideas for using this awesome app in your classroom!

So, how do you use this app in your classroom? Share below! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Gingerbread Fun!

We've had such a blast working through our gingerbread unit! It almost makes the weather outside feel like winter. I mean as much as it can with 85 degree weather everyday #flweatherproblems. 
To start off our unit, we first read a classic retelling of "The Gingerbread Man". After reading the text, we used our "Story Map" Interactive Anchor Chart to document the characters, setting, and the actions of the beginning, middle, and end.

Then, we used the chart to help use fill out a three tab fold-able

We used the retell to help us recount the story and determine the central message of this VERY popular folktale. We wrote that on the back. 

The kiddos came up with so many different themes! I was really excited to see all our hard work with theme a few weeks ago really seemed to pay off! Three of the major ones were: 

1. Don't talk to strangers
2. Don't boast or brag
3. Don't run away from the people who love you. (WOW!) 

(Did I mention I teach second grade??? LOL)

The next day, we continued our study of the folktale with reading Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby.


(Check it out on Amazon)

I absolutely LOVE the illustrations in Jan Brett books! She does an amazing job of telling the story through the pictures. As we read this retelling, we mainly focused on the details in the pictures, especially the little side view windows that are uniquely Jan Brett.

 gingerbread baby page

The we went back to our Interactive Anchor chart and started mapping this story. As we added our sticky notes to each section, we discussed how this retelling was different then the classic version we read the previous day.

Then, it was time to compare these two stories. We did a super quick brainstorm together on the whiteboard...

Then, the kiddos worked to write their own comparisons.

Students documented their findings on this sheet from my gingerbread unit, "Can't Catch Me!".

Next up was a western inspired retelling and of course, my boys favorite!

Of course, by our third retelling, filling out our chart was super easy!

We also read, "The Gingerbread Girl".

The Gingerbread Girl (Hardcover)

The girls LOVED this one, especially since she doesn't end up getting eaten at of the story like most of the others.

We used this retelling to discuss adding the suffix -ing to verbs to change when the verb happens.

So, after we read the text, we brainstormed 12 different verbs that would describe how the gingerbread cookies got away.

Twirl, flip, run, jog, jump... 

were just a few of the verbs we wrote down. Then, we used these verbs and worked to add -ing to each word, discussing how sometimes to spelling changed and sometimes it didn't.

Then, we recorded our verbs on this little booklet.

The booklet was attached to a little gingerbread man that we made. The next day, we used the verbs to create our own Gingerbread story. The students checked off the verbs they used as they wrote.

Their stories were so creative! I love the "Star Wars" Gingerbread story.

By this point, we had read so many gingerbread stories, the kids were starting to see the repetition in each story, so they tried to have that in their stories.

We also used Popplet to help retell our favorite gingerbread story.

This was my seconds first time using this app, so I was very specific in the requirements for the project. Some students even got a little creative and added photos. We shared our retelling popplets with the class when we were done. I'm sure we'll use it again! (You can read about how easy Popplet is to use here)

Now, no Gingerbread week is complete without a Cookie Boogie brain break from GoNoodle!

We've had so much fun with this gingerbread unit, some of our activities are going to spill into next week!

We'll be learning about the history of Gingerbread by first watching this little video from The History Channel.

we're also reading this article.

This article is now added to my Gingerbread unit, so if you already have it, be sure to re-download it!

We'll also be doing a little Gingerbread sampling! I'm a *bit* pressed for time, so I found these gingerbread cookies at our local grocery store. No baking this year! :(

I've been looking for these for a little while, so when I found them, I decided it would be best to pick up some for my entire team! Sorry to those shoppers around me... I *may* have swiped all the boxes!*

After sampling our cookies, we'll be doing a little data collection and graphing!

We'll also be reading more stories in our daily center rotations by using this QR code center.

My thirds LOVED this center last year! Each video reading is run through SafeShare so there are no ads you have to worry about!

The kiddos literally just scan and go! I <3 easy centers!

Whew! Nothing like a little sweet treat fun to get you and your students in the holiday mood!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fall and Turkey Fun!

It is starting to feel like "Fall" around these parts. Thank you 80 degrees with a breeze. Honestly, I'd prefer some sweater weather, but I can't complain. 

This past few weeks we've been all about the season, Fall and a little turkey persuasive writing. Let's check it out! 

I love teaching about Fall here in the Sunshine State. Mainly because there really isn't a Fall season. Unfortunately, the palm trees don't really loose their leaves and animals head our way for winter... so teaching about this "abstract" idea is a must! 

For our close read, I used a printable book from Reading A-Z,

If you're not familiar with this amazing website, I seriously suggest you check it out! They have THOUSANDS of books to choose from all leveled and perfect for putting text in our student's hands. Reading out loud to students can only do so much. We gotta practice those skills too and this website helps me do that! 

So the first day we read our non-fiction text, we focused on the text structure and text features. Text features is an area of weakness for my kiddos this year, so we talked about them- ALOT! LOL! 

Before even reading the book, we went on a "Text Feature" hunt and circled all the text features we could find using a marker. 

Our second read focused more on the main idea of the text. What was this whole thing about? We used the Main Ideas and Details Interactive Anchor chart to show our findings. 

(You can grab this chart as a sample FREEBIE here!) 

Our last read was all about "Author's Purpose". Why do those authors write?  

Before reading, we discussed why author's write (and that it is as easy as PIE) 

Then, we dove into the text to see why our author wrote our book. After reading, we discussed the author's purpose. I put our sentence on our Author's Purpose Interactive Anchor Chart

Then, I gave each pair of students a sticky note to find evidence to support our claim. 

I'm not gonna lie, folks... this was a challenge! Knowing our author's purpose seemed a breeze, but finding evidence?! YIKES!

 Many of my friends wanted to copy easy to find information from captions and charts, and although those pieces helped the text along, they didn't always match our author's purpose. 

As we reviewed each student's answer, I ended up having to hand back a few sticky notes to have students make adjustments. Don't worry, we'll continue working on author's purpose for the rest of the year! 

We also discussed a phrase the author used to describe the leaves in the fall. The author stated that the "leaves are jewel colored in  Autumn". 

We took a moment to discuss what "jewel" meant. We also discussed why the author was using such an intense word. We finally concluded it was to help paint a vivid picture in our mind (YEAH!) 

So, then we decided to think of some more vivid words for those fall colors! 

To complete this activity, I split my students into groups of 3-4. Each group got a leaf, a color word, black marker, and an IPad. 

We used the IPads to look up more intense version of our color word.  

 After we shared our words, I hung up our charts onto the back cabinets so we could refer to them through out the week while we wrote! 

For writing, we have dived into Persuasive writing. At first, this genre was a little tricky for my students to grasp, but once we understood that sometimes authors write to get us to think a certain way, it was a WHOLE lotta easier! 

To start our persuasive writing for the week, I read the story, "Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving"

If you don't have access to the book, there is a great little video on YouTube.

If you're not familiar with this story, it is SUPER cute! A class visits a turkey farm right before Thanksgiving and befriends all the cute plump turkeys. Upon learning their new friends' fate, they hatch a plan and smuggle the turkeys home. Instead of turkey for Thanksgiving you see each child has a turkey as a guest. Precious! 

After reading through the text, we started brainstorming what we could have instead of turkey for Thanksgiving. Our suggestions were so interesting!

For the record, hunting is VERY popular where I teach, so things like dear meat and squirrel are just an everyday thing. 

We each chose an item to focus our writings on, then set to work to begin our brainstorms

We brainstormed 3 reasons why our food choice was better than turkey. Then, we used our brainstorms to begin our rough drafts. 

I modeled for students how I wrote my persuasive writing piece

(You can read all about how I teach writing HERE!)  

Then, I conferred with each student to edit their writings using a rubric. If you haven't done one on one student conferences for writing, I HIGHLY suggest it! I promise you will see INSTANT results in your kiddos writing! (and their effort!) 

 They used their edited draft to work on their final copy. Once they were done, they could have a buddy reread their writing and work through checking off their rubric. 

I can't say enough about using rubrics during writing. They are a perfect way to communicate what the expectations are for writing as well as a way for you to easily grade each writing piece. 

Once we were done with our final drafts, we started creating our little turkeys

Quite possibily my students favorite part! (Ok.. mine, too!)

 Their writings turned our great! 

I used them to decorate our hallway outside our classroom. The kids LOVED showing them off to the other classes as they walked by! 

SO those a just a few things we did to bring fall into our classroom this year! I can't believe it's ALMOST December! Time to start working on Holiday fun! Oh and laundry... ;) 

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