Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Spotlight Series-Adventures in Room 5

The trip is still going great today!  I have another guest today!  It's the lovely Cassandra.  Be sure to make her feel at home!

Hi, my name is Cassandra from Adventures in Room 5. I've never been a guest blogger before so this is pretty exciting for me!

I wanted to share with you today about some amazing picture books I just ordered from amazon. I am a big picture book fan as I assume most of us elementary teachers are. Whenever I am in doubt about how to intro a lesson, I get a picture book. They are always my go to resource.

This year I really wanted to start off the year with some good character building picture books. Here are the books that I am planning on reading at the beginning of the year.

The first one is called, The Worst Day of My Life Ever. It is about a little boy who has a terrible day. He gets gum in his hair, he is late for school, he does all the wrong problems in math, he kicks a goal into the wrong teams net, and he gets in trouble with his mom for making a mess in the kitchen. When he talks to his mom he realizes that he could have avoided having the worst day ever if he had just listened a little better. The next day he tries it out and he has a great day.

The next book is called My Mouth is a Volcano. This book is about a little boy names Loius. He has very important things to say all the time. When he gets an idea in his head he tummy grumbles and his mouth becomes an errupting volcano. This is the perfect books to help the kiddos with blurting and interrupting.

The last book I have to share with you is called the Juice Box Bully. It has become  one of my favorites. The kids in Mr. Peltzer's class have made a promise to each other. they will stand up for one another to stop bullying. When a new kid joins their class and starts picking on others, the kids in Mr. Peltzer's class have teach him all about the promise.

You can check out this post at my blog for a little freebie to go with this book.

Has anyone used these book before? Any good character building books you love and think I should check out?

Thanks so much Amber for allowing me to be a guest here today!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Spotlight Series-Second Grade Style

So you know how I said I'm at Myrtle Beach on a mission trip? Wanna hear something cool?  My guest blogger's church is here! Too bad she couldn't come with them!  Julie is posting today for me. She's one of my very first followers! Make her feel at home!

Let me apologize for being soooo M.I.A! Here's the deal...

Hi everyone! I'm Julie from Second Grade Style. I'm so excited to be a guest blogger over here today! Thanks Amber!

Today, I'm going to share a quick idea turned "I did it". First, let me start off by saying that I teach year round, which means while the rest of you are hanging out at the pool right now, I've been in school for 2 weeks already! Phew!

During my break I was able to attend a SIOP training that inspired me a lot! I came away with so many great ideas of how to make my teaching more meaningful for all learners! One thing that my coworker and I talked about was really having our students be able to USE our math manipulatives.

Anyone out there have TONS of math manipulatives, blocks, etc, just stowed away in bins where it's not always convenient to get to them. Ours are kept in bins up high above our cubbies and shelves. I used them, but a lot of times it was a pain to get them out and put them away.

When my county adopted the Math Expressions program a few years ago we each got 24 of these:
They are bags full of all the manipulatives each student needs for the whole year. In theory it's a great idea but in practice it's a mess! I used these when I student taught and my cooperating teacher and I learned that it took a lot of time for the kids to find the right material, get it out, and later put it away.

So I sorted all of my materials by item and have been passing them out and collecting them. Until now!
Now I'm using "Math Bins". 

A"Math Bin" is just like a team supply bin/caddy - it has all the materials that one team needs for math. 
Right now, we are working on place value/number in base ten so my kiddos have hundreds blocks, ten sticks, and ones in their bins. 

I keep the bins stored elsewhere in the room and simply hand them out before math. The kids are becoming really good with using the materials. We are doing number of the day (see this great resource from Lory Evans) as our daily warm up and now part of number of the day is to use blocks to build the number. They are rocking it!

Also, I feel that my kiddos are becoming better mathematicians because they have all of the tools they need right there! A great moment today was when we were working on a math activity and a child looked at me and went "Umm, you forgot to pass out our math bins and we really need them." Success!

For each new math unit, I'll change/add the materials they need. 

I hope that you can use this idea in your classroom! Feel free to stop by and let me know how it works for you!

Let me know if you need anything else from me. Thanks for having me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Spotlight Series- I Teach....

Let me apologize for being soooo M.I.A! Here's the deal...

I am currently in Myrtle Beach.  Nope not on vacation. On a mission trip. Sleeping on an air mattress at a school. I'm on staff at Mission Serve Myrtle Beach. It is going great! I haven't had any wifi, hence my slackness!!  I'll fill you in on the trip next week! :)

I have a special guest today! Be sure to give some love to Megan! :)

Hello, ladies! I'm Megan from I Teach. What's Your Super Power?
I'm super excited Amber has asked me to guest post here.  I love her blog and did a little dance when I realized I was going to get to be a visitor. Let's talk about book reports.  Fun right?  Not.  When we finish our books in literature circles, I like to end the unit with a book report.  But not the painful flashback from childhood you keep having every time you read book report.  Book report.  See?  It keeps happening doesn't it. Here are a few options I've used that are cringe free for teachers and students! Scholastic has a Create a Character Scrapbook.  Have you seen this before?  Very cool!
You start out with the Title of your book and character.  I just finished the fifth Gregor the Overlander book, so I chose Ripred from mine.
The interface is very easy to use.  First kids design their character (human or animal).  Then, they get busy typing!
Here's what the printed copy looks like.  If your librarian/tech person gets a little foamy at the mouth if you print too much in color, print it in black and white and have the kids color the character in.
If you don't have access to a computer lab or laptop cart, it would be easy to create a "scrapbook" page for the kids to design.
The next project is a Grab Bag.  We did this with our adventure book clubs.  You can download the directions sheet and rubric that I use for this project at the bottom of this post.  I run it double sided so the kids can use the rubric to check their project before they turn it in.  You can click on the picture below to download them.
The directions and rubric:
I don't have any kid examples (I wish I did because they are incredible!), but this is the one I share with the class when we discuss the project.  I use The Twits because it is a book I read aloud, and we refer to often.
My (10 Minute) Grab Bag Example:
And what teaching blog post would be complete without a pin from Pinterest?  I found this pin over the summer and want to try it out next school year.
And how cool is this?  It's from Beth at Thinking of Teaching.  I think this is how I found her blog.  Awwww.  Here are some beauty shots I stole from her post.
Well, thanks to Amber for letting me be a guest here today!  I hope y'all will come over to visit me sometime!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Spotlight Series-Smiles and Sunshine

Hey friends! Aren't you guys getting some great ideas for next year?  Three guest posts in one week, I'm loving it!

Today I have a fun, easy, simple reading craftivity from Kaitlyn at Smiles and Sunshine! If you haven't checked out her blog, make sure you do!

She's super crafty, and of course full of smiles and sunshine!  Make her feel at home! :)

Hi Bloggy Friends!
Thanks to Amber for having me visit today! :)

One of my favorite things to teach is Reading. I also love making things with the students, or having them create something to respond to the reading with. I have a fun activity for you today that your students will find pretty cool (it's been kid tested and approved! :) You can use it for summarizing, or critiquing a book (or anything else you can think of!)

First, you need to have a sheet of paper (cardstock, construction or regular). Fold it in half the hamburger way.
Then you need to draw a half circle on the paper (or, as mine turned out, an oval)
Cut it out.
Here comes the fun part! Students are to pick a book (or do this with a book that they have previously read), and they decorate the front of the circle with the title, and maybe some scenes from the book. This is what mine looks like.
On the inside, students can write a summary of the book, or write a critique of the book, what they liked, what they didn't and why.
They can also add another scene from the book on the inside cover, maybe their favorite part. My kids loved doing this year, and they all turned out beautifully. 

I hope your kids love it as much as mine did!
Stop by and visit!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Spotlight Series-The Wise and Witty Teacher

Happy Wednesday friends! 
Today is my little brother's 18th birthday! He is all grown up! 
So here is an homage to Adam...

(1998 called...)

I'm pretty sure we could be twins if we weren't 8 years apart!

Well, on to other things! I have a great guest blogger today!

It's Victoria from the Wise & Witty Teacher!

 It's pretty cool actually, because I know her in real life!  We met through Pinnacle, a technology cohort of sorts from my county!  Actually, that's why we started our little ol' blogs, as a requirement! Well she has an AWESOME post for you guys!  If you need some organizational ideas, here they are.  

Be sure to leave her some love! :)

Hi everyone!  I’m Victoria Wise from The Wise & Witty Teacher.  I am soooo excited to be featured here on Amber’s blog.  Today I am going to be sharing my Wise OWLS Folder (Organized, Working, Learning Students) organization with you.  I’m sure that many of you have heard of MOOSE Notebooks and the other various acronyms that are used for student organization notebooks.  For the past two years I’ve had FROGS Folders (Fully Responsible Organized Growing Students), but since I changed my theme to owls this year, I’ve changed the name of my notebooks.  Either way, the same basic organization remains the same.

For me these notebooks serve as a means to keep the lines of communication open with parents and help students become more responsible and independent.  This folder holds all of their important papers as well as behavior/contact calendar, AR/Reading log, and homework.

In the past I have always used the 3-brad heavy duty poly-pocket folders and they have been PERFECT.  However, this year I am using 3-ring binder only because my principal gave them to me and that saved me the expense of buying new folders.  (My previous folders had been used for 3 years and had finally worn out so they needed to be replaced.  If I didn’t already have the binders, I would have purchased the heavy duty folders again.)

The Wise OWLS notebook included the following sections:
1) Front Cover  (Freebie)
2) Left Pocket
3) Pouch
4) Important Information Calendar  (Freebie)
5) Divider
6) Addition Facts  (Freebie)
7) Subtraction Facts  (Freebie)
8) AR Test Log  (Freebie)
9) Spelling List
10) Spelling Activities (Freebie)
11)  Reading Activities  (Freebie)
12)  Ziploc Pouch for reading book and reading log
13) Right Pocket  (Link to Freebies)

1)  Here is the cover of the notebook…pretty self explanatory.  I always laminate the cover page and then write the student’s name with permanent markers (then erase it with nail polish remover at the end of the year).

Click here to get your FREE copy of the folder cover.  (FYI:  For some reason when I loaded it onto Google Docs it doesn't "look" right, but when you print it or download it it will look the picture above.)

2)  The left pocket of the folder is for homework sheets and important papers that need to go home right away.

3)  Next is a zipper pouch which I currently don’t have a cute name for, but I’m open to suggestions. (With my FROGS theme is was the “Pond Pouch”.)  In this pouch, parents place lunch money, excuse notes, permission slips, or anything else that needed to be sent back to school.

This is the kind of pouch I have (this will be the 4th year using these same pouches...they are very durable).

4)  Now comes my favorite:  the Important Information Calendar.  This calendar shows important information from the school and class calendar (report card days, early dismissal, holidays, etc.) as well as reading a spelling homework assigned for the night.  Since our district has transitioned to a new math series we do not have math homework every night like we did in years past.  If we do have math homework, it will be put in the left pocket to be completed and returned. 
I would be happy to email you a template for this calendar that you can modify any way that you would like.  Just email me at  and I will send it straight to you.  ;)
5) Following the calendar is a divider.  Everything behind the divider is related to homework in some way.

6&7)  First is a page protector with addition and subtraction facts (addition on the front and subtraction on the back).  Since we don’t have nightly math homework, I feel it is important for the students to practice their math facts nightly.   I’ll be assigning one set of facts to study each week and then we’ll have a short quiz each Friday.  Click to get a FREE copy of Addition Facts and Subtraction Facts from

8)  The next part is for their AR Log.  This log can be filled in by the teacher or the student.  In my class, I have the kids fill it in (they get lots of training on how to fill it in).  I’m sorry to say, that I don’t have time in my day to check everyone’s AR progress each week and write it down in each folder and I certainly don’t have time to write down every test.  (We have a limit on copies, so I don’t print weekly reports for each child because I choose to use my copies for other things.)  Plus, I feel that having the kids write it down makes them more accountable.  So, they take the test and write down their results and then show me their folder.  I check progress on the computer twice a week.  Parents are also able to check their child’s AR progress any time they want online.  (Yes, I know that it does have frog and not an owl, but that is because my AR sign says “Hop Into AR”…and I think it is just way too cute to change.)

Click here to get your free AR Test Log. 

9&10) Following the AR Log is the spelling list.  The district changed the spelling lists this year so now it looks a little different than it has in the past.  Basically, every student must test on the high frequency words, and then they are assigned another list of words based on their pre-test score for the week.  Next to the Spelling List is the list of Spelling Activities.  This will be my forth year using a list of Spelling Activities.  In the past I have let the students choose any even or odd numbered activity depending on the day.  This year I will be assigning an activity most nights but students will have one night that is Free Choice and they can choose anything.  (My list is an adaption of one created by Christina Bainbridge several years ago.)

Click here for your free Spelling Activities page.

11)  Finally comes the Nightly Reading Activities page.  In the past I have used the same activities all year long, but I found that by the end of the year the activities had become too easy for the kids.  So, I’m now doing activities for each quarter.  There is a spot for FICTION BOOKS and NONFICITION BOOKS.  I’ve always had a problem with students creating complete sentences on their own.  So with this sheet of reading activities, I have it written out word-for-word what the students need to write and blanks where they can add in their own details.
Click here to get your free copy of 1st Quarter Reading Activities.

12)  After the list of Reading Activities is a Ziploc bag that has been hole-punched where I will be placing a book for the student to read that night as well as a reading log where they can write the title of the book and have the parent sign.

13) Finally, in the right-hand pocket, I have a list of high frequency words that should be spelled correctly in student’s homework.  Click to get a FREE copy of the 220 Dolch High Frequency Words.

And that my friends, concludes my OWLS folders.  One thing that I do want to mention, that has been a saving grace for me is the use of a Homework Notebook.  I always give my kids a spiral notebook to do all of their homework in.  On the front side of the paper they do their Reading Activity and on the back side of the paper they do their Spelling Activity.  Using a spiral notebook is great because then I don’t end up with a hundred pieces of scrap paper turned in or deal with the excuse of “I didn’t have any paper.”  Things stay nice and neat and work is easier to check.  And, once the notebook is completely filled in I just send it home and give the kids a new one.  They will usually use two notebooks in a school year.  I’ve been using spiral notebooks for Reading/Spelling homework for the past four years and it has worked great. 

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read through my super long and possibly boring post.  I hope that you have found some useful information and some resources that you can use in your own classroom.  Please check out my blog, my TpT Store, or follow me on Pinterest by clicking on the buttons below.  J

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