Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It!

I love that Monday Made It with 4th Grade Frolics pushes me to make something creative for my classroom.

Today I made Visual Writing Prompts.

We all have stories to tell, but sometimes students have a hard to getting those stories started. I know that my students do at least.  
When I was on my vacation, I thought, what a great opportunity to take lots of pictures. I can use these in my class.

These visual writing prompts provide students with a visual inspiration to start a story. Sometimes a story starter just isn't enough. 

With these students can select a picture that “calls” them to begin writing. If they aren’t sure what to write about, they can flip the picture over to select a prompt.

The pictures are copyright free. I have either taken them myself or they are from Pics4Learning. Pics4Learning are noted on the actual picture. 

You can get the free pdf at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Connecticut and New York!

The Power of Reading

Wow! My daughter and I just got back from visiting my brother, sister-in-law and new niece. Might I saw, my new niece, is precious, darling and tiny! She is only 5 weeks old, but very alert. My favorite time with her was first thing in the morning. I read to her some of my favorite books, one being, Guess How Much I Love You.

She would watch me read and as my voice changed her eyes would get big and her arms would move back and forth. Really? Is she enjoying this book as much as I am? ( Or am I freaking her out...I'm going with the first.)

Ahh! The power of reading to children!

Our next book with my new niece was, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. Again, another one of my favorites, and the fact that my niece's name is Lily. My daughter read this book to her. She was riveted! Lily's eyes never left my daughter's face as she read to her.
Ahh! The power of reading! As I watched my niece's animated little face as she listened to my daughter, I thought about my big fifth graders. They too had a riveted face as I read to them this past year. More so than any other year, this group loved to be read to on a daily basis.

This past year, my fifth graders, loved the book, Al Capone Does My Shirts. 

They would beg me to read it. If I was absent, they were not happy because the sub would "not get to it" during the day. They were intrigued by the behavior of Natalie. How was it that she was that old, but behaved like a 2 year old?

I fell in love with this book when I went to visit my brother, who happened to be living in San Francisco at the time. We took a trip out to Alcatraz. Who knew kids actually lived out on the island?!

I don't know that my students would have actually read the book on their own. Maybe a few of them, but certainly not all of them. So, what drew them in? The thought of convicts, it's history, the unknown behavior of a character or my enthusiasm for the story?

Do you have one of those books that you love to read to your students?
What are your top 3 read aloud books?

Friday, July 20, 2012

To Do List -- Be Gone!

I'm linking up with Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies' linky party. 

Summer is ticking away. Here are some of the things that I need to get movin' on!

  1. Create Poetry Pots-print out the words on magnetic sheets
  2. Find some interesting reader's theaters for fifth graders
  3. Clean out my 2 file cabinets...Do I really need all that stuff?
  4. Make crate seats for my new low table.
  5. Print labels for science notebook, writing journal and WIP (Work in Progress) folder
  6. Make and laminate cute "Hollywood" themed math station signs.
  7. Put together Daily 5 binder
  8. Put together math anecdotal notes binder
  9. Clean out and reorganize teacher binder
  10. Look at new curriculum documents
  11. Create QR code lessons
  12. Investigate Edmodo...Do I want to use this site with my students?
  13. Clean up class website 
  14. Read Engaging Students by Phillip C. Schlechty 
  15. Create Back to School/Open House presentation
  16. Design a "Where are you going?" magnetic board
  17. Renew my driver's license!

I have to stop! This list could keep on going! I will just drive myself nutty if I keep listing. The plus side to the list is that I can go to my classroom at any time to take care of these items. Last summer, our school was under major renovations. We were allowed in a few days before our first day for teachers. Then, it was all about finding your things throughout the school. It was a mad scramble!

The plan of action...check off a few a day. Starting with the driver's license!

Right's all about family, pool time, friends, reading and relaxation.

What's on your list? Link up and share.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Been a Bit Crafty

A couple of days ago I started working on some craft projects that I hope will help with routines, procedures and expectations in my class. I wanted to create some items that I don't have to make every year. So, here they are...

Magnetic Student Numbers---Where are you going?

Wooden circles for student numbers. I'm going to use these for "Where are you going?" during small group instruction. These will go on the side of my file cabinet. Picture soon.

Team Stop Signs
The STOP! plaques are used during team work. If I notice that a group is quarreling, getting loud or not following our working collaboratively norms I place this on their table. I give them one minute to reflect and report to me how they can work better as a team. 
This ideas is from Laura Candler. Team Stop Signs

100% Here!
 In the past, I have just written this on an index card. I decided to find a fun wooden plaque from Hobby Lobby, painted it and printed out my 100%. I Mod Podged the 100% on the painted plaque.
When I am in small group, I start with placing this in the middle of the group. We are 100% here and these are our norms...flip the plaque over...
We go over the norms for our small group. Then, I flip it back over to the 100% side. When I notice a student not 100% with the small group, I just tap the top of the plaque to remind them about the expectations for the group.

Hummm...what's next on my crafty list?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

QR Codes

Novelty and Variety! Engagement!

I've been researching QR codes. I am SUPER excited about this! 
I made one for the opening page of my class website. My family thought it was creepy. Both husband and child stared at me in disbelief. 

Here it is. If you have a smart phone, you can download the app for the QR code reader.

I changed it! It was creepy. Don't want to scare the parents and students.

What if I use Vocaroo? Gotta try that.

The ideas are endless.
Create a setting...have students create a voice over for the setting to describe it.
Create a "Choice Your Own Adventure" story.
Math problems at math stations. QR codes as answers.
Connect to a video.
Hyperlink to a form to fill out.
Link to a book trailer.
Link to a survey.
Learning station answers.

Here is the site to make your own.
For the desktop you can also install a little bit of software that will use a webcam to read the codes.

Some sites:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Teacher Pay Teachers just sent an e-mail that I sold another item. Wahoo! How exciting!
This has been fun.  Thank you to the person that just purchased, Scientific Method Flip Book.

Here's the blurb: This is a creative flip book on scientific method vocabulary. This 5 page booklet contains directions, a template for the flip book and cut and paste definitions. 
Have students work independently, in pairs or collaboratively to determine the meaning of each word. This activity can be glued into a science notebook.

This evening we made pizza rolls. My child does not like pizza, but she loves Double Dave's pizza rolls. Since it is no longer in our area so we have learned to make the pizza rolls. We have now taught our N. Carolina family how to make them. Yum! We all helped make them. My niece formed her pepperoni in the form of a flower, until we rolled them up.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm Trying!

So, with summer here, I thought I would be much better at blogging. Not so!
Why? I have time. Is it because it's not a habit yet. Let's Google it. How long before something becomes a habit?

Well, several sites (not looking for research based sites) say depends on your purpose. Several Google sites say between 21 and 28 days. No evidence to back it up. I have always heard 21 days. Apparently, this is a myth that started from a book published in 1960. It was written by a plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He noticed that it took an amputee 21 days to adjust to a loss of limb.  Uhhh, didn't see that coming.

Back to the Book Whisperer.

What squares with my thinking.

  • Everybody is a reader! 
  • Types of readers
    • Dormant reader
    • Underground readers (This is me.)
  • Student interest surveys
  • Stealing reading moments
  • The Rights of a Reader by Daniel Pennac (below is a link to his free poster)
  • It's about reading, not requirements. 
What keeps going round and round in my head?

  • Bell Ringers and Warm-ups 
  • Library time-I've used it as a free time. Check e-mail, catch up on paperwork, 
  • 40 books-The reason this is going round and round in my head is because of my daughter. She is dyslexic. How would she handle this? I know the reaction I get when I ask her to just read for 20 minutes a day during the summer. Make sure the are "good fit" books, set the expectation, lead by example. 
  •   Forty-Book Requirement list (350 pages =2 books)-change it up a bit based on our curriculum. 
  • Tripping Over the Lunch Lady, edited by Nancy Mercado-book for the beginning of the year. 

3 points to remember.
(Not finished with the book yet