Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It Linky Party

It wouldn't be Monday without Tara's Monday Made It Linky Party!! Click Tara's button to check out other awesome Monday Made It projects. :)

Here are the projects I worked on last week:

1. Indoor Recess Choice Board: I was inspired by Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher who created a similar board for Fun Friday and thought this would be perfect for indoor recess. I am going to have 27 students and indoor recess always seems a little chaotic no matter how many students you have so this board is how we will have organized fun. Students will choose an activity, clip the clothespin for that activity to their shirt, and stay at that activity. This will ensure that there are not too many students at any one choice since I only offer up to 4 people to be at each one.

I'm not sure if I'll let them freely change their choice or if I should have them all change after 10 or so minutes. What do you think would be most efficient to manage?

2. Community Supply Bins: The Kristi/ens are rockin' because this project was inspired by another Kristen... Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files! Kristen has posted a few times about supply bins, and I've decided to take this particular route, which was also inspired by this pin from Disney's FamilyFun website... a muffin tin (from Dollar Tree) for each table! The little goblets, which come six in a pack (also from Dollar Tree), fit perfectly too! I put clear marbles (Dollar Tree), like Kristen suggests, in the bottom of each cup to prevent tipping. I put extra marbles in the crayon cups to elevate the crayons so the students would be able to see them better.

You can download my labels in my TpT store for free (I've also included a label for glue and scissors). :)

How do you store community supplies?


3. CAFE Documents: I also created documents for managing my literacy block including reading and writing conferences, reading and writing strategy groups, and reading and writing whole group instruction. If you're interested, read my part 1 post about them or click the pictures above to download them from my TpT store.

p.s. I'm moving into my very first classroom today! :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Managing the Literacy Block (Part 1)

I recently discovered this amazing blog:

The Differentiation Destination

It's a collaborative blog on best practices for differentiating instruction (based off Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson's work). The four teachers behind this effort just created this blog in July, and I can already tell great info and ideas are going to come from them!

I was in the midst of figuring out how to structure my literacy block with the CAFE and Writers' Workshop when I started feeling SUPER OVERWHELMED...reading conferences, writing conferences, small group (or strategy groups) instruction, whole group instruction, assessments, mini-lessons... my brain was overloaded. So I took a break and stumbled upon a post on flexible groupings from The Differentiation Destination. This post really spoke to me. After reading it, I got the inspiration I needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And now I'm ready (and a little afraid) to share it with you. :)

First of all, two of my biggest questions this summer have been:
1. How am I going to manage reading and writing (and math but I'm still working on that one)?
2. How am I going to meet the needs of 27 second graders?

I know many of you have been reading the Two Sisters' CAFE and Daily 5. Both books are such a great resource! I am also a fan of the books below too.

Product Details
Product Details Product Details 

During student teaching I had a binder, like the Two Sisters suggest, and I used elaborate charts and graphs from The Next Step in Guided Reading (I should have read The CAFE Book more carefully because they warned about elaborate charts). I found that I had trouble managing a binder (it just got too crowded) so I have taken the bare necessities and parts from each of these resources to create a system of individual, small, and whole group instruction that will hopefully work for me and my students. As for centers, I'm not going to do the exact model of Daily 5 but I'll post more about that at a later time (you can view my center board here though). It might be too much or not enough but I won't know for sure until I actually meet my students and get in the classroom! Nonetheless, I like to be prepared and would like to share my plans with you anyway. :)

Here is my tentative weekly literacy schedule:
note: to the right of any slashes is what I'm doing with selected students and to the left of any slashes is what the rest of the students are doing

The Meek Moose was recently talking about baby steps and that's what I need to take when introducing all the components of the literacy block to my students.The CAFE Book and Launching the Writers' Workshop give great suggestions on how to get started...the Two Sisters recommend not even starting strategy groups (groups based on need not ability/level) until mid-October. A lot depends on my students too, who I am anxious to meet!

Here is how I will stay organized:

I am going to use magazine boxes (Ikea) and file folders (Target). The pictures above are my reading files and the boxes they are kept in (I have my writing documents set-up the same way). Like I mentioned earlier, the binder didn't work for me but if it works for you, you can easily adapt these files into sections of a binder.

Box 1, Individual Instruction: will house the conference schedule file with (1) reading conference appointments and (2) keeping track form. Each students' reading conference file will also be in this box. I'd also like to put some kind of helpful conferencing resource on the left side (the side that is currently blank) of the student conference form.

Box 2, Strategy Group Instruction: will house file with (1) reading strategy group appointments and (2) reading strategy group lessons. Materials for strategy group lessons will also be placed in this box.

Box 3, Whole Group Instruction: will house file with (1) weekly overview of whole group reading mini-lessons and (2) plans for mini-lessons.  Materials needed for whole group lessons will also be placed in the box.

You can download all the labels and documents (both reading and writing) in my TpT store for free.

If you are interested in learning more about each of these documents, stay tuned for Managing the Literacy Block (Part 2) where I will go into more detail about how I am going to use them, etc. If you have any questions, leave me a comment, and I will try to answer it in my post. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012



Thank you to the following awesome teachers:

Ms. G 

Juli and Heather



for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award! 
I appreciate your thoughtfulness! :)

I nominate the following bloggers for this award:

Please, visit these lovely blogs!

The rules for this award are as follows:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award. 
3. Pass the award to 15 new bloggers.

**My Google Reader is having issues and won't let me follow any blogs. :(

If you missed Thursday's post, then let me tell you how much I love receiving mail (a lot!)!! I had been searching for months for just the right iPad case. I wanted one that was like a hardback book and one that was practical and cute. FINALLY I stumbled upon what I had been looking for and it came in the mail yesterday! I LOVE IT.

I purchased it from The Preppy Ladybug (click her button below to go to her store) on Etsy. She has many different patterns, colors, fonts, and frames to choose from. I actually asked if she would be willing to use a font that she didn't have offered, and she did! I love Kimberly Geswein's Janda Safe and Sound font (it's free).

Happy Saturday!! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

p.s. Does anyone know of a good iPad case for kids?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Brain Breaks: Recessitate

Hello, friends! Hope you're enjoying this lovely July day! 

I love receiving mail, don't you? Even if it's something I've ordered and am expecting, seeing the package on the front step is like seeing presents under the tree on Christmas morning. I normally have forgotten what I've ordered when it arrives so there is a slight element of surprise too!

I recently invested in an Amazon Prime account so my mail ordering has gotten a little out of hand. Amazon Prime is so great though because you receive packages in one to two days and shipping is free. What I especially like about it is that it will be efficient during the school year...with having to commute to school and having a busy teacher schedule as we all do, I can just order a book or resource with the click of a button and it will arrive in one to two days. No more driving all around town (which saves you gas too)! So are you convinced to invest in an Amazon Prime account yet? :)

Anyway, the purpose of this post was not to reel you in to my Amazon addiction (even though I did include a link in the above paragraph) but to share with you something I received in the mail today. Are you interested in using brain breaks to energize and refocus your students so they are ready to learn?! Then take a look at the brief video below where I share about Recessitate!

I am not affiliated with the company that I purchased this from, I just wanted to share a cool resource. You could also create your own brain break cards or purchase them from TeachersPayTeachers but (as much as I love supporting other teachers) I decided to purchase Recessitate to save time in the gluing, cutting, and laminating department (since I already have a lot of that to do!).

Enjoy the rest of the day!! :)

Stay tuned! I'll be back this weekend with a post on Guided Reading and Writers' Workshop and a post on my iPad case (that's supposed to come in the mail tomorrow!!).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It Linky Party

Made It Monday, hosted by Tara at 4th Grade Frolics, makes Mondays so much more fun! Click Tara's button to check out all the great projects!

 I have three projects to share with you:

1. Absent Student Folder: When students are absent, I will place any assignments that they missed in this folder and have it waiting for them on their desk when they return. I always want students to feel a sense of belonging in our classroom so when they are gone, I definitely want them to know they were missed. The reason I will have them return their completed work on Friday is because that is when grades are due. At my school, we must turn in two grades per subject every Friday. The file folders are from Target, and I created the label with clipart from Maree Trulove and fonts from Kimberly Geswein. I did a little play on words with Pete the Cat. :) You can download my absent student label in Google Docs.

2. Whole Class Journals: I've seen this concept of whole class journals on Pinterest and on many other blogs and loved the idea. I created labels with eight different open-ended writing prompts. These journals will be an option for Early Birds. I hope these journals will not only give students authentic writing opportunities but will also help with creating a sense of community. You can download my journal labels in Google Docs.

3. Centers during Guided Reading: While this is not done yet, I wanted to show you what I have started (sorry the photo is a little blurry). I implemented the Daily 5 during student teaching (and loved it!!) so I'm taking what I love about the Daily 5, the technology resources my school has to offer, and suggestions from my mentors to create effective centers. The green numbers on the left are the number of rotations. The yellow transportation circles at the top are my six groups. My plan is for the six centers to stay the same but to give two to three options (that will change either every week or every other week) at each center. I want to do something similar to the Clutter-Free Classroom's math workshop board (pictured below) but with a twist that I'll have to wait to share until I can get in my classroom to see if my vision will work. :)

 Workshop Rotation Board

I will have 27 students so by offering six centers that will leave 3 to 4 students at each center depending on who is being pulled for Guided Reading throughout the hour. I used transportation clip art because our grade level theme is the Time Travelers...the theme is integrated into our curriculum. Here are some closer-up photos:

You can download my center labels in Google Docs.

Clip art:

KPM Doodles
Maree Truelove Illustration and Design

Have a super week!! :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Liebster and Versatile Blog Awards

Thank you to Mona from First Grade Schoolhouse, Brigid from Brigid's Daily Lesson Log, and Mrs. Goodwin from I Live 2 Learn and I Love 2 Grow for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award!!
Photobucket ilive2learn ilove2grow

Thank you to Tamera from My Heart Belongs in First and to Ms. G from Ms. G in Grade 3 for nominating me for the Liebster Blog award!!

I am so grateful for your support and encouragement!! :)

Versatile Blogger: 7 Random Facts About Me

1. I have a passport that has never been used. Do I see a destination blogger meet-up in our futures? Bahamas? Costa Rica? Italy? South Africa (I've always wanted to go on a safari ride!)?

2. I REALLY DON'T LIKE BUGS. Like, I still scream when I see a spider. It's pathetic I know but I just feel like they are crawling on me when I see them. Eek!

3. I am going to be a bridesmaid (for the first time!) at my friend Jenny's wedding next summer.

4. I rode an elephant at the circus when I was a kid.

5. I grew up celebrating Christian and Jewish holidays because my mom is Christian and my dad is Jewish.

6. I want to live at a zoo just like in the movie We Bought A Zoo.

7. I love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

I nominate the following bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Sharon at Teaching With Sight
2. Renee at The Reading Corner
3. Ms. Martinez at The Fourth Grade Adventures of Mrs. Tinez's Kids
4. Tania at My Second Sense 
5. Gina at Third Grade Tidbits
6. Erin at The Elementary Adventure
7. Amanda at Reaching for the Top
8. Mrs. P's Ed Tech Talk
9. Jenn at Finally in First
10. Lory at Lory's Page
11. Mrs. P at That's So Second Grade
12. Heather at Heather's Heart
13. Amanda at Mrs. Terhune's First Grade Site
14. Tiffany at The Learning Effect
15. Betsey at Trendy Tech Tips

Please, visit our new and familiar friends. :)

The rules for the Versatile Blogger award are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about you.
5. Present 15 other bloggers with the award by commenting on their blog.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.

I nominate the following bloggers for the Liebster award:
1. Kristin at I Teach 1:1
2. Sharon at Teaching With Sight
3. Renee at The Reading Corner
4. Hillary at Adventures of Teaching
5. Gina at Third Grade Tidbits

Please, go check out our new friends. :)

The rules for the Liebster award are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their site.
2. Present 5 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers the award by commenting on their blog and link to their site.

Happy Sunday!

Parent Communication

I can hardly wait until the season finale of the Bachelorette tomorrow night!! Will it be Jef or Arie?! I'd give the rose to Jef! Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher always posts the most hilarious reviews on her series Talk About it Tuesday following every episode of the Bachelorette and the Bachelor.

Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family/school Partnerships
So since it's not time for the Bachelorette yet I'm going to share about parent communication. During student teaching I attended a workshop on parent and school relationships where the presenter recommended a great resource - Beyond the Bake Sale, a book on establishing and maintaining a partnership between families and schools. When Borders (I MISS BORDERS!! but am now a regular Amazon customer and by regular I mean a wwwaaayyyyy too frequent customer) was having their going-out-of-business sale last fall I spotted Beyond the Bake Sale and figured it would come in handy later so I bought it.

I have read parts of the book here and there...the authors have an amazing vision of what they think a family and school partnership can look like. Research shows that families + community + schools = high student achievement. They give many suggestions and ways by which to create this partnership. The biggest theme I've gathered from the parts I've read is to keep parents informed.

The following pictures are of the documents I created for my Parent Communication binder. I took photos of the documents with my iPad, used the app Penultimate to write notes about how to use the documents, and took screenshots to show you!

One way I'm going to keep parents informed is to contact them regularly with positive news. I've created a positive note record (below) so I can balance the communication I initiate between all the students.

 In each students' section I created a communication log (inspired by the Clutter-Free Classroom) to cover my bases for any issues that may arise.

I also created a conference record that I will use to show our collaboration on a student's social and academic progress. I love using the terms "glows" and "grows".

Click the document below to access all the files from my Parent Communication binder in Google Docs. Hope you can use them or find inspiration from them!

How do you keep parents informed? How do you (or your school) establish and maintain a partnership between families and teachers/schools?

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