Thursday, October 30, 2014

Five for Friday

Fall!  Fall!  Fall!  Oh joyous Fall!  It's such a great season!  I just love it!  Hey everyone!  Kristin here!  We're hooking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for a Five For Friday post!  I thought it would be nice to share Five Fall Faves for Five For Friday! Ha!  How's that for some Fine alliterarion?
So here are my Five Fall Faves!

Let's start with my number one Fall Fave for this week.....something a little "whackadoodle!"  This boy is one of three fabulous grand babies...all my faves!!!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this boy!  This is Lindsey's son! Clearly he got our family's wacky sense of humor because he is really INto carving pumpkins....literally!  He loves standing IN the pumpkin.  And oh by the way...if you get just reach in, scoop some raw pumpkin and eat it!  Yep...he really did!  Silly boy!

My number two Fall Fave.......
Little Mister may like his pumpkin fresh and raw but I prefer mine with added sugar...preferably in a deeeeelishus baked treat!  Thankfully we have the most awesome staff at school and they make the most amazing treats!  Just look at this spread, and this is only part of it,  that we were treated to in the staff lounge today!  OH MY WORD!  I'm gonna look like a pumpkin if I keep eating these delicious treats!

My number three Fall Fave.....
Speaking of our awesome staff....did I tell you that they are F.A.N.C.Y.?????  No sir-reeeee!  Plain old carved pumpkins will NOT do for our F.A.N.C.Y. staff!  Just LOOK at these fancy, bling-bling pumpkins that some of our talented staff made!  Oooooo.....ahhhhhh....those are some faaaaannnnncy pumpkins!  Hmmm....Fancy Pumpkins....would make a good title for a children's book, no?   Focus Kristin..focus....

My number four Fall Fave....
Ooooo...lookie lookie!  These beauties cause me more twisted ankles and crooks in my neck when I race outside to see them, than even my crazy dogs do yanking me down the street when I take them on a walk!  THESE are Snow Geese!  Aren't they beee-yu-teeful?  Well, can't tell by my photo 'cause clearly I am not a photographer, but just use your imagination. helps if you squint....and turn your head a little to the left...and...well...just take my word for it!  They are beautiful and white and make the most wonderful honking song as they fly over.  These babies fly all the way from Russia every Fall and hang out in the nearby farmer's fields until Spring.  (And you think you are tired after a long flight!  Whew baby!)   It is just not Fall and Winter without them!  (Can you tell we aren't a hunting family?)

My number Five Fall Fave....
THESE leveled passages!  Today we are gearing up for November, so we are prepping our Thanksgiving themed passages for use in our classroom/reading groups for the next couple of weeks.
After years and years of watching so many children struggle with learning, Lindsey and I have such a passion for making all learning accessible to all children all the time!  That's why we are making leveled passages that are all about the topics we teach every year!  Now, all of your readers can read on the same topic and learn the same vocabulary!  It makes teaching for you and learning for kiddos, so much easier!   These passages are GREAT for teaching close reading, determining important versus unimportant information, finding details, finding evidence for answers to questions, making mental images, learning new vocabulary,  practicing sight words....the list is endless!  That's why we love them and we are sure you will love them too!  If you'd like to have them, you can come to my class and borrow my notebook full of can click on the pictures!




Hope your Fall is Filled with Fabulously Fine Fall Faves like mine!  (Okay Lindsey...quit rolling your eyes at your mama's alliteration!  Ha!)   Happy Fall Everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Two Tips for Tuesday - Struggling Readers

Well hello there Tuesday!   Here you are back again!  These weeks just fly by, don't they? Howzabout another Two Tips for Tuesday for Struggling Readers??   Kristin here again.

Today's tips focus on the learning behaviors of listening and speaking.  We have so many students these days who for various reasons, have difficulty with listening and speaking as it relates to learning!  Kinda sorta messes them up when it is time to do some learning, right?  As we have done so far, we are trying to keep our tips light and doable in the classroom and reading groups.  So let's get moving right along, should we? 

*Tip 1 - Observation Charts
This is another version of a G.L.A.D. oldie but goodie that works well to help students practice speaking about their learning.

                                        These are for a second grade Community Unit.

Here are the steps:

     *Make mini-posters (9 x 12 or 12 x 18) with photos of items that relate to the current topic of study.  For example, for a bats unit you might make a poster with the different types of bats, another with diagrams of how echolocation works, another with maps of different locations and the types of bats found there, etc.  Include a blank piece of paper hanging with the poster on which students can write.  Hang each poster in a different location around the room.

     *Divide students into small groups.  Give each group one pencil.  Student groups rotate through the different posters in the room.  (1 group per poster at a time - use your favorite rotation routine to manage this.)  At each poster, they observe like a scientist and discuss what they see. (The teacher mingles with groups and encourages the use of academic vocabulary in student discussions.) They then must decide upon and write (can be single words) what they notice about the poster.  As each new group rotates to the posters, they add anything different that they notice or see. 

     *When finished with rotations, or at another time or another day, each group can share one poster and the observations that go with it to the whole class.

(This can be done in reading groups too, to help build schema for a new book that's about to be read.  Just make mini-mini posters on the book's topic and have one or two students in the group partner up. You can rotate the posters to the partners right at your reading table, instead of the partners rotating to the posters. I often use this in my reading groups to do just that!  It's another way to get the K that you would get on a KWL chart, AND it includes that critical picture support! Short on time?  Do it verbally.  Have the partners tell the rest of the group what they notice or know about their poster.)

And SHAZAM!.....there you go.....lots of scientific observations, lots of academic vocabulary use, lots of discussions, lots of learning and schema building...... AND......lots of CCSS addressed!  A regular plethora of learning right there!  Sweet!

*Tip 2 - Conversation Club
Got students that don't seem to have the social norms of communication yet?  Got students that are maybe a tad impulsive (wink wink - you know what I mean) when it comes to talking and sharing turns in a group discussion?   Makes it a little difficult to have academic discussions, doesn't it?   I feel your pain!    Buuuuut......we have to be sure to teach students what good conversations look like and sound like before we get what we expect. It's not always easy and it is often the thing we let go of first when time gets pressed!  Because........I don't know about you, but we don't have an overabundance of time at our school!  Sound familiar? 

 Well...we have just the thing for you!  It's called the Conversation Club.

This easy-peasy-to-use and quick resource helps you to teach the rules/norms of discussion groups, the roles used in a discussion group, and some questions to practice discussions with, in a super fun and engaging way!   The suggested steps and lessons are included along with everything you need to teach your students how to be excellent communicators.  We have them on two topics so far (more on the way), but you can always use any other discussion topic with them.  (Back to School is a great one for the beginning of the year, but the Friendship Conversation Club is good for any time of year, as it also has questions about being a good friend and about bullying....which by some craziness can start to show up about this time of year!  Crazy.....I know....but it does happen sometimes!  Well....okay not at your school, but just in case....) can grab them here! I know you'll find them super helpful!  They have years and years and years...okay I'm not that old......of tried and true tested success in my classroom!

Alrighty then!  There are your two tips for this week!  Hope you have a fantastic week and if it is conference week for you too, like it is here....hope you get lots of great information (wink, wink) and helpful support from the parents! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spiders, Research Projects and Conferences...oh my!!

Well it's Sunday night. I, Lindsey,  always get a little depressed on Sunday night because I SO enjoy my weekend and the sleep I get. But, this week will be super busy and will go by quickly and I will be enjoying my sleep next weekend soon!

I want to start by sharing our final writing project AND share my fail which turned out in the end so it wasn't too bad.

My original plan was to have the kiddos use white crayons to make the spider webs and then watercolor paint over them. Great idea, right??? Well, see the problem was I didn't have any watercolor paint. So I thought "hmmm...I'll just water down the tempera paint...GENIUS!" Well...not so much. That didn't work AT ALL! So then I thought "Glue lines! YES! That's the answer!" So we took our glue and made spiders webs with it. Then we let them dry over night. The next day we painted over them and you know what??? That didn't work. Disappointing. So after the paint dried, we put glitter webs on top. My quick project took two days. FAIL. But, they turned out cute and the writing was pretty decent so we rolled with it:)

This week we are going to start working on research projects. We use Sarah Cooley's project which you can get here or here. OR you can click on the picture:)
This is a great project! The kiddos LOVE it and she has templates for different topics or a blank template. It is fantastic! We use the animal template which is the reason why my local library no longer has non-fiction animal books:)

This is only a fraction of the books I checked out!

I let the kiddos pick their animal. They research them in partners but they write their own report when they are finished. Then they present their information, in partners. In the past, I have had them make posters to share their information but this year they are going to have the option to make a power point. I am up to six computers in my class, woohoo, so I think that we will be able to do it without having to find time to go to the lab.

This week we are also going to begin locating key details in a text. We are going to begin questioning in a few weeks and we want to make sure that the kiddos can find the key details that they will be asking questions about...kind of important. Now, this week is conference week which means we have a week of half days. Our research projects take A LOT of time so we are just touching on key details this week and will dive a little deeper next week.

I am going to be using our Owls passages to teach this concept. There are important facts at each level which is what we are going to be using as our key details. I am excited about using these! You can click on the picture or click here to get them. 

Like I mentioned above, it's conference week. If you stopped by on Friday you saw my procrastination in full effect when it came to conferences!!! WELL.....


Do you know what this is?!?!?!?!?!?! ALL MY CONFERENCE STUFF!!! D.O.N.E.

Not only did I organize all the kiddos stuff by day, I ALSO put it in order of the conference. WHAT?!?!?! Is that the organization fairy looking jealous? That's right!

Not only do I have the folders, I ALSO have on grade level work AND handouts ready to go on my table! Who's a procrastinator???? Nope. Not me. This proves it!!

I hope everyone makes it through this crazy week and survives the excitement overloaded kiddos! Hey, at least Halloween's on a Friday this year:)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five for Friday!! we are again.....Friday. How I love FRIDAY!!!! Lindsey here, and I am ready to bring you my Five for Friday! My favorite time of the week:)

The other day was my daughter's field trip to the pumpkin patch. I LOVE the pumpkin patch! It is my favorite family activity! So, I HAD to take the day off and go so we could have a family trip. Now of course, it's October in Washington, so our trip was cold and rainy. It's okay. It was still fun. We have a great local pumpkin patch that we go to every year and I LOVE it:)

Here's Emerie's "cheese" face. She was a LITTLE excited at the beginning (by the end of the trip she was cold, cranky and ready to go home). 

I was SO excited for Tyson to go to the patch this year because now that he can walk and get around on his own I knew he would love it!

Now, you know what isn't really fun? Taking the day off of being around a bunch of kids to go hang around a bunch of other kids. Now, obviously I love hanging out with my own kids, and the kids at my daughters school. But some other kiddos at this patch were not supervised very well and I had to squash my teacher-ness during the whole trip. Not. Fun.

Have you ever tried to get a family picture in a pumpkin patch with a bunch of kids running around???? This is the best we got:)

Next week is conference week. That means a week of half days. That means a week of crazy kids. That means a week of stress. So, to ease that stress I am trying to be completely prepared. 

Usually I am the queen of procrastination.

Like, SUPER procrastination queen.

I am happy to say I am CHANGING my ways.

Well...I'm trying.

So this is my kitchen table...

Actually, that WAS my kitchen table. Until I tried to do some work while my kids were playing before bed. Then they thought it would be fun to start pulling my papers off the table...I guess that's their way of reminding me that work is supposed to be done after they go to sleep:) I's not really's taking care of my's not like I DON'T WANT to do work...I mean there's always tomorrow...conferences aren't until next week...I have the whole weekend...right???

Anywhooo...this is our next task...

Obviously we can't have parents coming to our class with our desks looking like this. We will actually use the folders in our desk to hold our papers. I know...CRAZY concept!!

So, I finally have all my beginning of the year assessments done and I am ready to start fluency practice. Our school uses Six Minute Solution. Looky at these beautiful folders...



Pretty right?????

I guarantee you in a month they will look nothing like this. They will be trashed. Let's take another moment to enjoy their beauty...

I'll give you some time to scroll up and look again......

Now, I have been a teacher for quite some time. I have experienced many things when it comes to these kiddos. I have said many things that I never thought would have come out of my mouth. Things that if you were a fly on the wall you would look at me and start laughing. I'm sure all of you can think of things YOU have said that you never thought you would have to say.

Well...Wednesday I had to say something to my second graders that I never thought I would ever have to say. I mean...they are second graders. They are 7 and 8 years old... To their defense it wasn't proven that it was a kiddo in my class that did this. We have 6 other second grade classes that use the same bathroom. However, I still had to say this...


They took their underwear OFF and LEFT IT on the FLOOR!!!!!

In the middle of the bathroom...

On the FLOOR!

I don't even know what else I can say about that.

We were having some pretty crazy weather today. Rain. Wind. Sun. This is what I saw on the way home...

A double rainbow! I feel like that's lucky. It's lucky to see a double rainbow. It's two of God's promises. It HAS to be lucky! Right??? I think so.

I hope you all have a double rainbow kind of lucky Friday:)