Thursday, December 10, 2015

Five For Friday

Happy Friday friends!! The count down is on! 5 more get ups until break! Woohoo!!! What better way to kick off the weekend then to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching with a Five for Friday?!?!?

Let me set the scene...

Guided Reading....working on connections....reading My Dog Buddy...

Student: "Mrs. Sanchez! Mrs. Sanchez! I have a connection to this page!! It's a text to self connection!"

Me: "Okay great! Let me hear it!"

Student (dead serious voice): "Mrs. Sanchez when I was little I used to eat toilet paper! My mom said I'd rip it all up and then eat it, just like Buddy!"

Oh boy...I believe my my next comment was something along the lines of "Okay, great! Let's keep reading."

At LEAST he was making connections. He was thinking AND reading which is exactly what I wanted, so I am going to count it as a positive! This is exactly why I love primary and the funny things they say!!

Check out these bad boys!!!! That's right! These are some of the Children's Choice books this year that I scored for 50% off at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale!! I went with a couple of my team mates and we battled over the books:) I'm pretty excited about them! I haven't read any of them yet but I am really excited about The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Egg, The Wolf and The Grandma. It looks HILARIOUS! 

My name is Lindsey and I use bribery...a lot! You are looking at the 4 dozen donuts I used to try and bribe our staff to come to our union meeting. I am one of union reps for our building and we really want our staff to come to our meetings so they can stay current on issues, especially since it is a bargaining year. I mean...on a report card prep Friday everyone needs a donut:)

When you work with your mom she likes to bring you old childhood toys to cheer you up:) I had A LOT of trolls. Don't judge!! This gal sits proudly on my desk, with a barbie skirt because she can't be nakey, on top of my tissue box, also from my mom. Side note...I always tell her I know I'm her favorite child because I didn't move away, like my brother did. I mean that alone gives me bonus better-kid points:)

 Next week, we are jumping into our Holidays Around the world unit. We mix it up next week. We do some rotations, gingerbread houses, Grinch Day and Polar Express Day all in one week. We have found that keeping the kiddos busy equals keeping them under control! I like to use our Holiday Passage Set for reading groups this week. It gives the kiddos some additional information on some of the holidays and, because they are leveled, it's easier for the kiddos to understand.

We also use the Globe Trot Scott Holidays Unit. This unit is AMAZING!! This unit comes from A Year of Many Firsts and has EVERY holiday you could think of! This will be our third year using it and the kiddos just LOVE it!

We CRAM as much as we can into the week. This is also great for me because it makes the week go by quickly...who doesn't love that????

I hope that you all have a fantastic weekend! Five days...WE CAN DO IT!!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rotating Classes...A Way to Fit in More Content

Happy Sunday friends!! I hope that you are all having a fabulous Sunday Funday:)

I want to share with you one of my FAVORITE art projects that we have done to date!!

Let me start with a little background...

At my school, primary doesn't get P.E. or music. We don't have any art docents or anything extra. In fact, the only specialist we get is library and we only get that every other week because they cut or librarians to all half time. SO, how do we handle this? Over the last few, 8, years we have done rotations. This is where we switch classes amongst the grade level for one afternoon and all focus on a different content. This was started by one of my teammates years ago and some years have been super successful...some years not so much.

Well, we decided to try it again this year. We have a pretty short day, 8:50-2:30, so squeezing in content can be tricky. So, when we have half-day Fridays, which we do more often than not, we rotate between three classrooms, 30 minutes each. One teacher focuses on science, one on P.E. and one, me, on art. This may change later in the year so that we can try and fit in more social studies or music. This also does not mean that this is the ONLY time we teach these areas, but just a time we can focus on them specifically.

Now, back to our art project. I found this idea on Pinterest, of course. It comes from, and is awesome! It is Monet's Water Lilies. They came out AMAZING and if you click the link above, they have the project broken down into steps which makes it SO easy.

Here's how we did it.

First, we started with a little background on Claude Monet.

I only have each group of kiddos for thirty minutes, so I didn't want to spend a bunch of time on the background but I did want them to know who we are learning about. I really want to focus on  an artist for our rotations and working with different mediums, instead of just doing craftivities. Another win for this project! The next screen I made, which of course I forgot to take a picture of, just focuses on Monet's Water Lilies. I put up different examples of the painting so that the kiddos could see the different ways their paintings could look.

We started with crayons to make the lilies and the lily pads. Yellow for the lilies, orange for the middle of the lilies and green for the lily pads. I also made sure to tell them to color heavily so the paint will really resist the crayon. Then we painted green water color over the lily pad swirls. We also painted some green parts throughout the pond. Then we painted the rest of the pond blue. We talked a lot about how the paintings looked more realistic when there was dark parts of paint and lighter because that's what ponds have.

We also talked about how we wanted to make it look like we had a big pond and we just took a picture of it. So the whole paper needed to be filled, and some of the kiddos made half-flowers on the edge so it looked like they were cut off in the picture. LOVE!

Here are some of the finished products!

I just LOVE, LOVE these paintings! They all turned out AMAZING! This lesson fit perfectly in the 30 minute time frame I had. They were all finished, except maybe one straggler per class, when time was up. It was great for different levels of artists in the room. They all turned out great!

If you are looking for a way to fit in more content, you should give rotations a try. We also do our Holidays Around the World studies the same way. Each teacher takes a country and the kids rotate through the teachers. But I will share more on that later:)

I hope you all have a fantastic week! We are down to two weeks left until break! Woohoo!!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Five For Friday

Here it is!  Friday again!  Yay!  Yippee!  Yahoo!  That means it's time for another episode of Five For Friday thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching.  Here's what happened in our world this week.

Winner!  Winner!  Chicken Dinner!
My husband drag races for fun.  (What the heck? Couldn't he think of a nice, safe hobby?)  Anywho, this year he won first place in the Mopar Division at his home track.  He got some "lovely," wink, wink, trophies and this sweet jacket!  This is his second or third jacket....I've lost track.  We are pretty proud of him.  Way to go mister!

Do you have little ones in your life?  This is our granddaughter.  We got to babysit the other day so mom and dad could go to dinner.  We were trying to talk about her day at school with her, but she was too busy enjoying her pumpkin cookie and watching Tom and Jerry on t.v.  Sheesh.  I guess we rate lower than pumpkin cookies and Tom and Jerry.  Oh the wonderful life of a child.  :)

Seen around school....
I just love my job!  I love everything about it!  I especially love getting to be all over the school throughout the day.  You get to see so many neat things that way!  This is my teaching buddy Sarah. We share an office that is divided by a sliding curtain wall.  Her room is adorably decorated in red, black and white.  It is sooooo cute!  Well, when I walked by a few days ago, I did a double take to see this.  Did you notice that not only Sarah is wearing red, black and white, but all the kiddles in this group are too!  Ha!  Color coordinated reading groups!  I love it!  By the way....she hates this photo because she says she is doing her old man look.  But she generously let me post it anyway.  She's so great!

Speaking of seeing great things.....second grade is beginning their literacy unit using versions of The Gingerbread Man.  They compare and contrast, they analyze, they synthesize, they close read, they learn about text structure...and they have FUN while they are learning.  Here is a cool GLAD process grid that Ms. Olsen made.  All of the classes do process grids, but she decided to turn hers into a gingerbread house!  LOVE!  How cute is that?  And it is HUGE!  So cool!

Don't you love this time of year?  I am so excited that it is time again to get out our Holidays Around the World and Gingerbread Man differentiated passages.  It is so fun to teach with them, and the kids just love it! They especially love the word game, "Fill the Sleigh!"  Plus, since I do reading interventions, these materials support the topics that the teachers are teaching in the classroom.  So this afternoon, I made sure they're all out and ready to use next week!  Can't wait!

That's about it for this week!  Hope your week went as well as ours did.  Not long now and we will be on break!  Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Encouragement - Teach from your heart!

I LOVE Debbie Miller!  I really, truly do!  As teachers we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us and of those who have mentored us in some way.  Their influence on our teaching lives is like the ripples in a pond when you throw out a rock.  They keep going and going and going. That is what Debbie Miller has done for me.  I first read Debbie Miller's book "Reading with Meaning" when I had been in the classroom for many years. Maybe it was her style of writing or her love for children or her amazing teaching ideas.....or probably all of them....but I was enthralled.  She inspired me, encouraged me and revived me for teaching anew.  Still today, when I need encouragement or to be returned to balance and reminded to teach from the heart, I pull out her books and read her words for the umpteenth time.

Today was one of those days.  As a specialist I get to go all over the school during the day.  Today I saw more discouragement, more anxiety, and more stress on teacher's faces than there should ever be. It was sad. Too many discussions about scores and numbers, too many roadblocks for providing help that some kiddles need, and too many teachers running about as if they were in the race to end all races.  Sigh.  It was a "Debbie Miller I need you" kind of day.  If you had a day like that, or if you feel your whole career is like that, let me give you some encouragement from Debbie Miller's words because what you do matters!

Debbie says...."It's true that teachers have never been under more pressure.  We're bombarded by demands and directives deemed by others as necessary and nonnegotiable.  But when getting done takes precedence over doing, when finishing becomes more important than figuring out, we've lost sight of why we became teachers in the first place; we've lost sight of what we know to be true.  In our rush to try to fit everything in, we've forgotten that children learn by doing.  And learning by doing takes time."   (From Debbie's book - Teaching With Intention)

I love that!  It encourages me and validates my thinking that maybe this teaching world has gotten way to crazy.  I would add to Debbie's words.  I would say that in all those demands...we've forgotten that children are children and they have a right to learn as a child...not as a miniature adult. They have a right to slow down and learn at their own pace, to figure things out, and to take time to think about things.  They have a right to learn happily...not under pressure and stress.  They deserve to have happy, unstressed teachers, too! After all, we want them to be happy, curious learners right?  So take Debbie's words to heart and let them encourage you.

You, dear teacher, are amazing and what you do matters!  Teach from your heart! Teach what you believe!

Have a terrific rest of your week!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Retell and Repeat...Practice Makes Perfect!

Happy Sunday friends! Lindsey here. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and a great break!

Today, I wanted to share with you what we have been working on in class over the last couple weeks. We have been busy!! We started working on retelling the beginning, middle and end, as well as identifying the problem and solution, of a story. Now, when I say we started working on retell I don't mean this is the first time that we have talked about BUT it is the first time we have really began to dig into it.

Over the years, I have found that retelling a story is difficult for so many of our kiddos. They just really struggle on including those important details. So each year we REALLY dig deep and practice.


These are the great stories I chose this year for my anchor texts. These stories are super high interest and the kiddos LOVE them. They are also pretty simple to retell and have a great problem and solution. We do a lot of whole group retells. We use the anchor below to structure what we include in the beginning, middle and end.

The expectation for the kiddos is that by the end of second grade they are reading independently at a DRA level 28. To pass this level, they need to be able to write a retell. So it is important to include those signal words on my anchor. This also helps them to make sure the events that they are including are put into the right order. 

I am a really big fan of not making a ton of copies. It is just so much easier to have the kiddos write in their reading response journals. Plus, they keep all their work together. I always put a large version of the graphic organizer on an anchor and the kiddos write their response in the same format. This picture shows one of the kiddos writing a retell for The Black Rabbit in there reading response journal following the same format we will use for our assessment.

This is the format for our assessment. Usually, we use passages for their texts but the anthologies work well too! We don't use our reading curriculum because it is so out of date and not aligned, but the anthologies do have some good stories. 

Our retell also carries over into guided reading as well. This is a great way for me to scaffold the retell into what every level needs. This particular group is working on retelling in order, which is why they are using the index cards.

There are so many more activities that we did, but these few give you an insight into what we are working on. This week, we are moving onto our gingerbread studies and we will be using our Gingerbread Passages set for continued retell practice. For a peek at that, click the picture.

I'm off to catch up on my feedback so that I am ready for the big sale tomorrow! Gotta love those credits!  I LOVE cyber Monday:)

I hope you all have a great week!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Object Lessons - Helping Your Students to Really Get What You Teach!

Match those socks!!!!.....or.....Using Object Lessons to help kiddos remember what they learn!

Don't you love it when you get to teach a really fun, engaging and memorable lesson to your students that turns on their light bulbs?  Me too!  That's what makes teaching so much fun!  That's why I love object lessons so much!  They always give kids a great, real "visual" for remembering the lesson.  My favorite book for object lessons is Tanny McGregor's book "Comprehension Connections - Bridges to Strategic Reading."  It really should be titled "Awesome, Fun, Amazing Lessons for Helping Students to Learn and Remember Your Lessons!"  I always try to use as many of her lessons and ideas in reading intervention groups as possible.  Last week, the fifth graders were working on Determining Importance.  Out came Tanny's book when I was planning and away we went with the spaghetti and colander lesson! Yep, that's pour spaghetti and water into a colander to show them'll just have to get the book and read it!  It is fabulous!  And let me tell you...those fifth graders now can explain what determining importance means and why it's important!

This week I needed an object lesson for helping the kiddles really understand that evidence from the text must actually match what they are finding the evidence for.  It can't kinda sorta maybe has to match exactly!  So, inspired by Tanny's teaching and after some brainstorming, the idea I came up with for this week's lesson uses socks!  I just could not get some of my kiddos to find evidence that matched the question being asked.  They always beat around the bush, but never found evidence that exactly matched the question,  So several socks found their way into my book bag.  The socks were spread out on the table and the students were asked if they matched.  "No!" They all said loudly.  "Well why not?" I asked.  "After all...these two match because they are both black!"  "No, Mrs. Denning....they don't match because one is for a man and one is for a lady!" "Aha!  Exactly!" I said.  They sorta match, but not really...not exactly!   We then had a wonderful discussion, using examples from the book they were reading, of text evidence that directly matched the questions being asked and evidence that only kinda sorta but not really...matched.  Just like the black socks.  Boy did they dig in to finding evidence after that.  Sometimes it just takes a great visual lesson to help the kiddles "see" what you are saying, right?  And being part of seeing your kiddles' light bulbs go on...well that is just the best!  So Do Not Pass Go - Do Not Collect $200!  Rush to the bookstore or go online and get Tanny's book!  You will love how object lessons liven up your teaching and your kiddles will love it too!

Happy Teaching Everyone!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Five For Friday!!

Happy Friday friends!!! Lindsey here and I am so excited to link up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for my favorite linky:)

STOP THE PRESSES!!!!! Candy cane kisses are back!! These are my very favorite and I love them and I may have three bags at my house. My hubs and the kiddos love them too:) If you haven't had them you do not know what you are missing!!!!

We had a pretty big storm up here in the PNW on Tuesday. knocked out power all over the place including most of the schools in my district. SOOOO....bonus day off in the middle of the week for us! Now, what did I do with all this free time???? Well...I went to Target and their dollar spot was on POINT! So many cute things but I was with my husband who told me "If you have to think about how you would use it then you don't need it." I think I will go back when he's not with me:) Look at these super cute pencils and erasers I snagged to go with the books I got my students. 

Yes... I got so many they couldn't all fit in the picture...gotta get them when you see them:)

Also on Wednesday, I got my 6th Stitch Fix. Now, I haven't had a whole lot of luck with Stitch Fix. I think that the most I've ever kept from my box was two things. THEN I got this box!! Let me tell you, it was like this stylist was in my head! I kept the whole box including this super cute top and vest!! I think I will try to keep this fabulous stylist:)

These books can only mean one thing...GINGERBREAD IS COMING!!!! I love our gingerbread unit! The kiddos really get into it and they get really excited when I read a new version. We end the unit with the kiddos writing their own version and they always turn out so cute! I just love this time of year:)

JUST POSTED!! We just finished our Rocks and Minerals Leveled Passages set. We had a request for this set as well as a solids, liquids and gases set, which we are working on. If you teach rocks and minerals or the rocks FOSS kit, these passages are a great way to tie your science into your reading block. There are 6 levels for each passage which allows for you to differentiate for all the kiddos in your class! Click HERE or the picture to read more about them.

I hope you have a fabulous, restful weekend!! And hey, you only have a couple days next week! We can do it!!