Thursday, September 22, 2016

Five For Friday!!

Happy Friday friends! It's been a long time since I've hopped on for a Five For Friday! I'm excited to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today!

I started this year off as a straight second grade teacher. Then, 5 days into the year, I became a first and second grade combination class. Yikes! On top of that, we adopted new ELA curriculum this year. Look at all these manuals!! For first and second grade, ELA only, I have EIGHT manuals! Are you kidding me?!?!? Let me just tell takes me a while to plan!

This is my troll:) I got her when I was little and my mom brought her back to me a few years ago to put in my classroom...with a Barbie skirt so she would be school appropriate. WELL...did you know that they made a troll movie?!?!? So now, I have to start collecting them again. It's like they are calling my name! I know...I'm weird. But it's so nostalgic! Here is my current collection...

I was so lucky this year to have another Donor's Choose project funded and got 3 more iPads. Well...I needed a better storage option because I was using plastic drawers but they only come in sets of three. It was starting to look too messy! So, I upgraded to this cart from Ikea! It holds all six iPads and the headphones to go with it! It's a much cleaner look then all the plastic drawers.

We have been learning about character traits. I had the kiddos write down some traits that describe themselves. This little guys' was one of my favorites! "(kiddo's name) is a super power master because I have super powers and I am a master!" I love this group of kiddos that I have!

One thing I am grateful for, now that I'm doing a split, are these leveled passages! I can pull the first grade independent level 3 (C) and second grade level 16 (H). Now they can read the same thing and understand it at their level! Phew! It has been a life saver! Did you know that we updated our first fall passages set??? If not, you should check it out or re-download it! It needed a BIG update:)

I hope that you all have a fantastic, and restful, weekend!!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

3 ways to get your students super excited about reading in the first week of school!

Hi teacher friends,

Would you like some ideas for getting your new students fired up for reading this new school year? That is always the first thing on our reading to-do list each year with our new students. You see, we want our kiddos to be so super excited about everything at school...especially reading....that they can't wait to get back the next day to see what they will get to do next.  That curiosity and excitement can easily be fueled and will quickly turn into motivation to read.  Here are a few ideas to try.

1. Grab A Book Game

This game is designed to get your students familiar with some of the great books in your class library, get them into the books, and get them talking to each other about books.  It is fast paced and fun!

What to do:

Have students sit in groups of 3 or 4 either on the floor, or at their table groups if your seating is arranged that way.

Gather a pile of some of the greatest books from your classroom library for each group, and spread them out in the middle of the groups.  Tell the touching yet.  "Nope...nope...don't even think about it!"  Then explain and model what to do in the game.

When you say go, each student will grab a book as fast as they can, begin paging through it to see what it's about, what the characters might be like, if it looks like it will be good and why, and so forth.  They get 2 minutes to do that.  (Fun timers on your SMART board or those countdown timers with lights, add to the fun.)  The idea is to take a quick look to find out all they can about the book without reading it. Older students will need to read the table of contents, the blurb on the back, and to really look at the cover art and what few pictures may be inside.  Younger students will need to do a picture walk to see what the book is all about.

When time is up, each student in turn shares a little bit about the book and why it would be a good book to read.  To keep the pace brisk, you might want to allow each student 30 seconds to share with their group, and ding a bell or blast a horn (the crazier the better) at the end of each 30 second time.  After all at the group have shared, the students then set those books aside, and another round of the game begins. You can have as many rounds as you have books available or as time allows.

At the end, your students will have been introduced to a number of the books in your classroom library, will have broken the "discussion ice" with some new classmates, and will be motivated to go back later and read some of those great books during independent reading time.

2. The Gift Of Reading Activity

You know doubt have a pile of books that you want to readaloud the first week of school. Here's a way to add more intrigue and motivation to reading them, by giving your students the choice of which book to read. The catch...only you know what the books are, so it will build anticipation and will be a surprise for your students. 

What to do:

Wrap each book in a different color/type of wrapping paper and add a bow.  Display the wrapped books on your white board ledge, a book shelf or any other display area you may have.  

Prepare a festive looking gift bag with a bow attached. Display it in a prominent place...perhaps beside the books or on your desk.  Inside, place numbered slips of paper (or colored slips or other slips depending on how you label your student groups) that match the number, color or symbol for each of your table groups.  

Explain that the book fairy has left a gift of these books to your classroom for you to read aloud to them.  (Side note.....If you live in Seattle, you could wrap them in Seahawks paper and tell them that the Seahawks mascot Blitz, gave them the books. "Go Hawks!")  Tell them that each day, a different table group  (or group of students, or other depending on how you organize your classroom) will get to choose the gift book to be read.  

Then each day, draw a slip of paper from the bag.  That group of students puts their heads together to decide which gift book they will choose.  When you are ready to read it, they also get to unwrap it and reveal it to the class.  

Such a fun twist to add to your daily read aloud that first week of school, and great to bring back now and then throughout the year.

Chapter book version:
Instead of great picture books, choose 5 of the novels or chapter books you will be reading to or with the class this year.  When they unwrap each, instead of reading the whole book, just read an excerpt of the most exciting or intriguing part. That will build lots of excitement and anticipation for when you do read the whole thing.  You might have to tell them..."No fair running to the library to check them out and read them ahead of time!"  

Notes:  I highly recommend that you have the students' choice made sometime in the morning, but actually read the book right after lunch.  It is a great way to settle them down and ease them back into learning after lunch, that first week of school.  Also, the more you make them wait, and build it up, the more excited they will get. "Ooooo....who will get to choose the next book?"  "Now, before the group unwraps it, what do you think today's book will be about?  Really?  Okay...let's read and find out!" You can even give "super guesser" awards to those who guessed correctly.  Just another little thing to keep the fun going. 

3. Rocking Reader Cards 

I don't know about your school, but our school has LOTS of assessments to get done that first month of school.  They are great because they help us to know our students' strengths and needs as readers. I love them and can't target my teaching well without them!  But.......they take weeks to finish, right? Well, we just don't have weeks and weeks to waste guessing what our students need to learn.  So what do we do?  We sit and listen to our kiddos read.  We talk about books with them.  We "kid watch" during reading time to glean all the information that we can.  

Well, while you are doing that, it is the perfect time to boost up all of your readers by making them feel like Rock Stars for what they already do successfully. So those first few weeks of school, when you take a minute or two to listen to each of your students read, choose 3 things that they are really great at already and praise that to the hilt!  Really use that opportunity to build each child up!  Then write those things down on a Rock Star card or some other celebration type card or paper, and give it to the student to keep or stick on their desk.  It will make them feel good about themselves every time they look at it! We all know that success begets success, so what better way to get them excited about reading, than to start the year by pointing out what they are already really great at! Here's a FREEBIE of Rocking Readers cards and Super Guesser awards, if you would like to use them. 

So there you go.....while setting expectations, building stamina, and practicing reading are super important to do those first few weeks of school, don't forget to get your kiddos so excited about reading that they just can't wait to get back to school the next day.  We hope these ideas will work for you, or that they will spark another idea or two for building excitement.

Happy teaching friends, and here's to a fabulous year full of students who make 3 year's reading growth in 1 year! 



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Five For Friday - New school year...Back At It!

Happy Friday teacher friends!  Hope your week was amazing and that you have a lovely, long weekend! Here's a little Five For Friday thanks to the wonderful Doodle Bugs Teaching!  This week's theme....Back At It...because that's what we were this week!  Ha!

What a G.R,E,A,T, way to start the first week back to school!  This sweet girl....adore... came back to teach at our school.  She taught next door to me ten years ago, then got married and moved to Timbuktu....I mean Montana!  (How dare she move away!) She is so great as a friend, so great as a teacher, AND she loves dogs! Ha! That seals the deal right there I tell ya!  Her return to home makes me happy, happy, happy!  Mrs.'s to you!

I know I've told least a thousand times...what a fantastic social committee we have at our school!  They could teach Pinterest a thing or two, I tell ya!  Well lookie here!  I walked into the staff room to find this beautiful setting!  Isn't it cozy?  Isn't it lovely?  Oh my word....the whole school is a-twitter about it!  No more institutional setting in our staff room!  I just HAD to share it with you!

The endless staff meeting happened this week, too!  Every year at every school, administrators have important stuff to talk about lest the whole school year fall apart, while the teachers work on building their attention and stay-awake stamina that they lost over the summer. So far so good...not one teacher fell asleep this year!  I call that a win!  Now, if we can just remember it all!  Ha! Ha! Hope your meetings went as well.

We adopted new ELA curriculum this year.  It looks great and seems to have wonderful resources. We're excited to get started on it. Since we support staff serve six grades, I've got some heavy studying to do!  Dinner or study, dinner or study.......hmmmm.....six grades.....better study!  :)

L.O.V.E. these!  This week I made this snazzy Close Reading Toolkit and absolutely love it!  It is from Create Teach Share and you can get the labels for free. It is going to make my small groups so much easier!  All the materials you need are in each box, and there are six boxes. Just hand a box to each student in your group, and they are set!  Since we do close reading with leveled passages all the time, these are just perfect!

You can read all about it on her blog HERE.

Well there you go!  That was our Back At It week!  Hope you had a good one, too.  Now I'm off to your Five For Friday posts to see what you all were up to this week.  Have a great weekend!