Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Data Board

Happy Holiday Break everyone!  I am prepared for 2 weeks of sleeping in, catching up on books, working on some TPT products, and family time.  But I also want to spend time planning for my students using data I have collected on them for Reading and Math.  The way I communicate the kids' data to them in a way they can get motivated about is my class data bulletin board.  We have a jungle theme, so I titled the board "Swinging to Success!"  Each student has their name written on a little monkey, and I pin their monkey on their reading level and on their Mad Minute level for Math.  After my mid-year reading benchmarks, every child got to see their monkey swing up the chart.  It is very rewarding for them to see their growth, and they are very supportive of helping their friends who are struggling during Read to Someone time.  Here is what my board looks like:

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do on our Mad Minute levels, and according to DRA, more than half my class is still behind on their reading level.  I teach at a charter school that accepts only low-income families, and most are Hispanic, so Reading is a major area of concern.  But I have already had some students make 2 years of growth, and I can't wait to see how high my little monkeys swing next time I DRA them!  What about you?  How do you share your data with your students?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gingerbread and...Gum?

This week, we have been doing some really fun and cute, yet educational, gingerbread activities.  I purchased Linda Kamp's Catch Me If You Can {Activities for Favorite Versions of the Gingerbread Man}, which you can find {here}.  Due to late planning, I realized a few days before the unit that I needed to get the books that go with the unit!  So I ended up paying outlandish shipping fees to get them shipped in one day, but it's been worth it this week!  On Monday, we read The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School and the kids made these cute craftivities:

I like how the one on the top made the peppermint hat to go with the gingerbread man, even though that wasn't originally part of the craft. :)  They thought the gingerbread men were so cute, they started making extras on plain paper.  Today, I saw one of my sweet boys give his gingerbread man to his little brother in kindergarten.  

After this craft, the kids made missing posters like the one in the book:

I love the message on the top one:  "If you find him, you get to see his gingerbread house."  So creative!  

Yesterday, we read The Gingerbread Girl, and the kids loved how she ended up tricking the fox.  Tomorrow, we will read The Matzah Ball Boy and there will be a fun craftivity to post pics of for that one!  

On another note, I had two girls chewing gum AGAIN in class yesterday.  Normally I don't treat it as a big deal, but these girls just keep breaking the rule and don't seem to care.  I made them miss out on all the fun gingerbread activities and write sentences instead.  One of them was upset that I was disappointed in her, and she came to drop this note in front of me:

The little boxes to check "yes" or "no" if I forgave her made me smile inside remembering the days of "Will you be my girlfriend?  Check yes or no."  Haha!  Thought this might make some of you chuckle too.  Well, tomorrow we basically have a half day because all afternoon is for rehearsing for the Christmas Program and watching the middle schoolers perform "A Nutty Nutcracker."  Then, Friday we get out at noon!  Almost there!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rudolph, Santa, and Winter

Yay!  I'm so excited that while unpacking, I found my camera battery charger.  So I charged up my camera and took it to school today to take some pictures of my students' adorable Christmas craftivities. Last week, we were working on "The Cutest Reindeer Ever" and Letters from Santa.  Here is how those turned out:

I just love them!  They really brighten up my classroom, and I've gotten some compliments on how cute  my door looks.  The kindergarteners thought the reindeer were watching them :)  As I mentioned in a previous post, I got these ideas from Lesson Plan SOS Teachers and their Crazy for Christmas Unit.

I also had to take a picture of my hallway bulletin board.  It makes me proud every time I walk past it!  I purchased Amy Lemon's Winter Writing Craftivity (only $2!)  and used it to create the bulletin board.  Here is what it looks like:

The kids did such a good job brainstorming winter words and writing really descriptive paragraphs about what winter is to them.  

Well, pics will be coming soon of our gingerbread activities this week.  I can't wait to see the finished products of what we started working on today!  They are so cute!  Happy last Monday before winter break. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gingerbread Week!

It has been a rough week in terms of behavior, so I am definitely looking forward to next week with the fun of gingerbread activities.  I purchased Linda Kamp's "Catch Me if You Can {Activities for Favorite Versions of The Gingerbread Man}.

We will be reading three versions of the gingerbread man, including The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, The Gingerbread Girl, and The Matzo Ball Boy.

I wish we had time to read more versions of the story because there are SO MANY, but with the activities that go along with these books, that should be all I can squeeze in this week around rehearsals for the Christmas Program, the class party, and early dismissal at noon on Friday!  

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Cutest Reindeer Ever!

I am loving an activity I purchased from Lesson Plan SOS Teachers from their Crazy for Christmas: A December Unit.  Find the unit here:

The activity is called "The Cutest Reindeer Ever."  Students get to use both math and writing skills.  They get measuring practice to create an adorable reindeer head, then they need to write "How to Make the Cutest Reindeer Ever."  We just learned about time-order transition words, so this writing project is perfect!  One of my students was so creative with his how to paragraph.  His introductory line was, "Welcome crafters!  Today I am going to demonstrate how to make the cutest reindeer ever!"  So clever!  Where did a 3rd grader learn the word "crafters?" :)  I would love to post pictures of some of their projects, but I am in the process of moving and have misplaced my camera battery.  As soon as I find it, I am definitely posting some pics!  I love this time of year in school!

I will be moving this weekend, so it will not be very restful, but I wish all of you a relaxing weekend!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Christmas Tree for Pyn

We read a really cute story today as part of our Christmas read aloud countdown that I just have to share!  It is called A Christmas Tree for Pyn.  Right away, there is a great opportunity for the kids to make predictions because on the cover there is a Christmas tree, but it is decorated with unusual items.  So the kids tried to guess why and what the story could be about.  Once I started reading, they loved the sweet pictures and descriptions of the little girl and her dad.  There was the opportunity for them to infer where the mother is, because we are not told directly.  One of my little girls also predicted the exact ending of the story, which I won't give away, but it is such a heartwarming story!  All my students went, "awwwww!" at the end :)  Give it a try if you happen to find it in your library and let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Math Coach's Corner Giveaway!

I am excited to let you know about Math Coach's Corner Giveaway, going on right now here:

She has a variety of prize bundles available, separated by grades K-2 and 3-5.  Included in one of the 3-5 bundles is my Main Idea Pack, which you can view here:

It is normally $5, but you have the chance to win it, plus many other useful products, for free!  Head on over to Math Coach's Corner and enter for your chance to win :) Good Luck!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

TPT Holiday E-Book Is Out!

I'm excited to announce that the TPT Grades 3-5 Holiday E-Book is out.  It is completely free, with over 50 pages of holiday tips and free activities.  I checked it out last night and this morning, and there are some AMAZING freebies in there!  My The Best Christmas Pageant Ever freebie is a part of it, which I am soooo excited about!  It has phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension activities to go with the picture book version of the popular chapter book.  Check out the E-Book and snag some great holiday ideas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Liebster Award!

I am so excited that I have been nominated twice for the Liebster Blog Award.  This is an award given to up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers (I definitely fit that category!)  Check out the blogs of the two people who nominated me:

Here are the rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. You must answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. You must create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. You must choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.

11 Random Things About Me
1. I have been a vegetarian for about 7 years.
2. I studied abroad for a year in Wales.
3. About 6 months ago, I found a 3-legged kitten on the street and adopted her.
4. Gone With the Wind is my favorite book and movie.
5. Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author.
6. I played piano for 11 years and trumpet for 8 years.
7. I get a massage about once a week to manage my stress headaches!
8. I taught my first two years as a Teach for America corps member, but my college degree was in Elementary Education.  I just wanted to begin my teaching career in a low-income school, and that is the  population I am most passionate about teaching.
9. I love children's books and children's movies! :)
10. I traveled to Japan in high school as part of a sister city exchange program.  I first learned that I get airsick on that 13-hour flight.  
11. I get extremely motion sick when riding in cars or on amusement park rides.

Answer 11 Questions
1. Do you believe in astrology?
2. What is your favorite subject to teach?
3. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Luckily, I have so many to choose from.  The first one that popped into my head was when I used to pretend to grill alongside my dad.  I used rocks for charcoal, and I had a little plastic grilling spatula and fake hamburgers and buns.  It was a nice father/daughter tradition.
4. Any hobbies?

Reading, creating things for TPT, exercising, visiting with family
5. Do you believe in love at first sight?

6. Are you close with your siblings?

7. Dog person or a cat person? person right now because they're easier to take care of.
8. Apple or PC?

9. Best travel experience?

The year I lived in Wales.  It was my Junior year of college, and it was such a break from reality, like being in another world.
10. If you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Pittsburgh, where my family is.
11. What is the perfect Sunday like for you?

RELAXING all day.  Rarely happens!

Next 11 Questions

1. How long have you been teaching?
This is my 5th year.
2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would like to try Italy.
3. What is your favorite unit to teach?
My kids loved the spider unit we did at the end of the year last year.
4. What is your favorite meal?
I can always go for some macaroni and cheese!
5. How long have you been blogging?
Just since the beginning of this month.
6. What is your favorite children's book?
Wow, such a hard choice. I really loved the Little House on the Prairie series, but also the Ramona series. I would wake up early Saturday mornings and read all day.
7. What is your favorite movie?
Gone With the Wind
8. Do you have any pets?
One cat named Scarlett :)
9. Do you have any children?
10. What is your favorite season?
I love winter because of the holidays.
11. What is your favorite band/music artist?
I love Frank Sinatra's voice.

Questions for my Blog Nominees
1. Who was your favorite teacher?
2. What do you do to manage your stress?
3. What is your favorite grown-up  book?
4. What is your favorite children's book?
5. What do you do for fun?
6. What is your favorite sport to watch?
7. Where do you want to live when you retire?
8. Do you give a lot of homework?
9. What was your favorite subject in school?
10. Where in America would you like to visit?
11. When did you start blogging?

I nominate the following blogs:

Please leave me a link back to your blog so that I can learn more about you!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

TPT Christmas Freebie Book

I am so excited to announce that my Christmas Freebie, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: A Reading Pack for Grades 3-4,"  was accepted to the Grades 3-5 TPT Christmas Freebie book!  When I got that email from Rachel Lynette, I started celebrating with kicking feet and screams of joy!  I will let you know when the Christmas freebie book is available.  Until then, check out my freebie that was accepted:

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is enjoying a relaxing weekend :)  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cyber Monday!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!  Get 28% off at my store this Monday and Tuesday by clicking the link below.  I haven't been blogging much lately because all my family is visiting from out of town, but I will get back to it once things are back to normal on Monday!  Have a great holiday everyone!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Linky Party for BEST Products!

I'd love to direct you all over to Mrs. Balius's blog for her linky party.  She has asked people to link up their BEST product, so I'm sure there will be a lot of amazing products linked!  I linked up my Reading Objectives Bundle, with lessons, activities, and quizzes for main idea, summarizing, and author's purpose.  You can find her blog at Mrs. Balius's First Grade.  Thank you Mrs. Balius for this great linky party idea!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giveaway at Classroom Compulsion!

I just received an email that the giveaway I donated one of my products to is beginning.  Head on over to Classroom Compulsion to enter to win one of 6 amazing prize packs!

One of the prize packs includes my Summarizing Pack, with a value of $5!  Check it out here:

I'm going to head over to the blog to enter myself for some of the giveaways :)

Cultural Acceptance

Today, we continued our Thanksgiving book countdown with a book called Duck for Turkey Day.
It is about a little girl whose family is Vietnamese, and she is upset that her family will not be eating turkey on Thanksgiving.  They will eat a traditional Vietnamese food - duck.  She is worried about being different from the other kids in her class.  It turns out, she's not so different after all - I won't give away the ending, but it's a great message!  This was a great read aloud for my class because it allowed for discussion about cultural differences and that differences are actually a GOOD thing.  It also gave me the opportunity to show them Vietnam on the map and to explain that not all people who look like the girl on the cover are Chinese.  My students all thought she was.  I love any opportunity to introduce new cultures to my mostly Hispanic class.  Do any of you have favorite books to read to discuss cultural differences?  I am always on the lookout because cultural acceptance is so important to me!  Happy Friday night everyone.