Sunday, October 19, 2014

5 Awesome Tips for Getting Kids Hooked on Books

This is an awesome  Guest Blog Post from Carmen.  Feel free to check out her blog over at 
1. THE POWER OF EXAMPLE— Let them see you reading. A lot. And enjoying it!
2. BOOK HOOKS— Read the first page or two of a new book, and then put it into the classroom library.  Kids who were blasé became hooked on the books.
Our classroom's reading jar
3. READING JAR—  In my reading corner I have a jar to record how many books we have read collectively. Every time a student reads a book from cover to cover, they can put a stone in the jar. I love hearing the clink, clink!
Our reading goal
4. MAKE A GOAL—  As a class, set a goal for how many books you want to read throughout the school year (the reading jar helps me keep track of this). Display your progress with pride.
5. READ—  Read aloud, every day, no excuses. Our schedules are tight, but defend your read aloud time! It is powerful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Parent conferences here we go!

Although it is a hectic schedule I do like having the opportunity to talk to my students' parents during conferences. Knowing what is going on at home and connecting it to school is very important. I try to show the parents different ways on how they can help their child at home.  I begin my conference with a form that student fills one week prior to the conference, where the student evaluates their habits at school.  I absolutely love how honest my kindergartners are, and I also get to see which ones are too being hard on themselves. I usually have one or two students that have no behavior issues and they still say they need more work on one of the areas.  Click here to download this FREE resource:

I hope you can use this with your students!  Have a great week,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaching and Assessing with Task Cards

      I have found a great new way to teach and assess my students, task cards! I like task cards because they are fun, easy and informative. One way I like to use task cards is in centers. I typically place the cards in my centers right after we have finished a unit. For example, when we finished our place value unit I put the place value cards in my centers. Once we finish our multiplication unit I will put the multiplication cards in the centers and move the place value cards to my early finishers bucket.

      For my early finishers I have a section on my board called "I'm Done! Now What?" Students may choose any of the items in that section to do if they finish early. Some of their choices are: read a book, write a story, practice spelling words, and task cards. Once I have used a set of cards in centers for a while and students have been assessed on them I place them near my board for students to use when they have finished their assignment early.

      Occasionally I like to use the task cards as an assessment. I usually use them for formative assessments, but occasionally they are used for summative assessments. I also use the cards from previous units to work with my small groups. They are a great resource for re-teaching a skill that students may have missed.

      If you have not used task cards before, or even if you have but you are looking for something new, I hope that you will try out my new Fall themed math and literacy cards and tell me what you think. You can get this set for free here: 

Fall Themed Task Card Bundle

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Past Month in PHOTOS!

We have been working non-stop in out little turquoise room. We have had visits from Zero the Hero, pirates, Johnny Appleseed and an observer or two. Yes, I had my first formal observation of the year! One down just three more to go! How many formal observations/evaluations do you have in a year?

As an Apprentice Teacher, I have four every year. Woo! Talk about stressful. I was so proud of my little firstie friends though. They were amazingly behaved and had their higher order thinking caps on to boot! Thank goodness! Ok back to this past month......

This is the beginning of my favorite time of the (teaching) year.....all the fun, holidays and "extras". It just makes teaching and learning that much more fun!

The classroom got a mini makeover with some cheap (like Dollar store cheap) decor. A few leaves here, a pumpkin or two there and.....Presto! It's Fall! 

I really have no clue why they have that yellow tint to them. Sorry, I promise I was not playing with the filters. 

We had a ton of fun this past month and it all began with a mini unit on worms.....

There was a divide in the classroom. Those that had obviously been fishing with a worm and those that probably were not allowed to play in the dirt. I had kiddos screaming and running for their lives. The "worm friendly" kiddos and I were cry laughing. You know when you laugh so hard you are crying? Yep, we could not stop laughing. I had kids seriously wigging out over these little guys. I have to admit, I was a bit creeped out at first but we ended up having so much fun and learning a TON!

We used this wonderful unit by Kristen Smith.....
We had a pirate dress up day next for National Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19, 2014. We used various pirate packs and Pinterest finds and had a blast....Here is peek at our Pirate week....

We had four graffiti table change-ups but I only was able to capture two on film. We played around with nouns in NOUN TOWN and took a closer look at Poetry....

We ended the month with two fantastic weeks of APPLES!!!!!

Zero the Hero stopped by with some Apple Jack fun to kick-off the week!

We made apple pies from the applesauce. See the picture below....I apparently uploaded the pictures in backwards. A normal person with normal internet would just upload again or rearrange....but my internet is acting super crazy and I just figure y'all understand. Right?
 We made homemade classroomade applesauce. It made our room smell so yummy. Needless to say, we made a few new friends. :)
 We taste tested red, yellow and green apples. The weirdest thing happened...every year red wins. Yellow won! It was like the twilight zone for a second. 
That's it friends! 
I hope you enjoyed our classroom photo montage!!!! I can't wait for October and all the fun things that go with this month....pumpkin, bats, spiders.....the list goes on and on. What will October look like in your classroom?

Friday, October 3, 2014

$uper $aturday $ale!

Hi friends!

This is Laura from Where the Magic Happens I hope you are enjoying the fall weather and sipping on a lot of pumpkin lattes!

I am joining my sweet friends from The Learning Highway to announce the $uper $aturday $ale for this month!! All our featured items are 50% off for today ONLY!!

Until next month!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Word Study that Works...

As a fifth grade ELA and social studies teacher, I am always looking for ways to making word study or vocabulary instruction more meaningful to my students. Over the past couple of years, I have been trying different strategies and ideas with a lot of trial and error. One of the most recent activities that I’ve tried is a spin off from “10 Important Words”.  This activity can be used with any grade level or subject matter. I call it “Sticky Words.”

Sticky Words:
1) Using any text, pass out ten sticky notes to each student.
2) While the students read or you read aloud, have them underline and write 5 to 10 unfamiliar words on a post-it note
3) I ask students to share their words and if anyone else in the room has the same unfamiliar word we put them on the board in a column.
4) I repeat this step until all of the sticky notes are on the board.
5) As a class, we analyze the graph on the board and the most frequent words become the assigned vocabulary words. The other words can still be studied in small groups. (This is a wonderful opportunity for differentiation.)


Vocabulary Word of the Day:

Every day (or every couple of days), I introduce a new vocabulary word. It can be any word from a list that is relevant to your grade level or other words you think your kids need to know. We spend a couple minutes talking about the meaning and giving examples and non-examples.  I then have the kids record the word in their vocabulary journals.  I keep these words posted on notecards along the top of the whiteboard. You could put them anywhere the kiddos can see them on a daily basis.

My kids always love this activity because I encourage them to try their new word at home, in class, and in their writing. I tell them they can’t just make up reasons to use their word, but they need to use it naturally in conversation.  I reward the students that are able to do this with tickets from our classroom reward system. This has been one of the most successful activities I have done in my classroom with word study. This activity seems to appeal to even the most unmotivated learner. I have seen challenging vocabulary words pop up months later in student writing because they are motivated to use their new vocabulary.
I don’t assess words of the day at all except once every nine weeks. I give them a VOCABULARY THINK-TAC-TOE activity to complete using their words.  This is a choice menu that allows them to demonstrate their knowledge of the words with three different activities. One child might do charades for their words, and another child might make riddles. It is a fun and engaging way to hold all students accountable for their words.

Vocabulary Journals:

When my kiddos complete vocabulary journals for me, I always have them write sentences using their words. Over the years, I have become frustrated with the sentences that students write for me. My students usually write sentences that are limited and do not have context clues.  This year I was determined to get better 'showing' sentences from my students.  I started the year of giving my kiddos a stretch your sentences printable to keep in their notebooks.  Their sentences seem to be much better when they know they have to answer the questions; who, what, where, & when.  Download this printable for free.
I construct my vocabulary journals using a cover sheet that my students decorate and a copy of the stretch your sentence sheet. I then include many copies of the free organizers below.  You can also use a simple composition book and have them glue in the organizers.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Curriculum for $15 or less Sept. 21-28


$15 Frenzy is BACK at Educents!

From Monday, September 21 - Sunday, September 28, 2014, Educents is bringing back the ever-popular $15 Frenzy! Here's your chance to get 15 different curriculum bundles for less than $15 each! Some incredibly talented teachers have come together to bring you Science, Reading, Language Arts, Interactive Notebooks, Planners, Math Centers, Social Studies Units, Reading Comprehension Units, Clip-art & more! You're sure to find something during this amazing sale!

Here's just a sample of the awesome curriculum and activity packs that are on the site--
  our very own Totally Sweet Math Centers by Tabitha has a bundle in this deal that you're sure to love!