Saturday, September 9, 2017

Off and Running

   The new school year is underway. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that last year I had a big change, teaming with two other teachers. The three way rotation took a bit of getting used to but we made it work. This year I'm still teaming with the same teachers, however I am taking on the Language Arts for all three classes. Yeah....75 third graders for reading with Ohio's Third Grade Guarantee looming over pressure😳Thankfully, my two colleagues are great to work with and we support each other 100%.    Another positive, I love to teach Language Arts, so teaching it three times a day is awesome.

     Something new I found for reading this year are finger lights for the kids to track their reading. The kiddos love them! On Friday, we shut the lights out for Read to Self time and they used their finger lights to read.   Another way I found to use them is to find text evidence in guided reading and shine a light on the evidence. It's a little thing that gets them motivated.      

Sunday, July 23, 2017

It's That Time Again

 I'm basking in the glory of my summer with books and sun. Then....BAM! The first back to school ad hits me out of nowhere. I don't even see coming. When I recover from the shock, I have to face it. It's that time once again.  Slowly, I allow my mind to drift in that direction.

  In anticipation for a new year, I created a Parent Reading Survey to pass out at Open House. Basically, I'm fishing for information on how the parents feel about reading with their child at home. The feedback I get will determine which path I take for required reading at home. You can download a copy of my survey here  if you'd like to give a try.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Peculiar Plants

The clouds parted and sunlight shone down on us. Sounds of cheers and songs of joy filled the air. It all happened Friday after the last state test in my classroom was submitted. No more testing the rest of the year!  I might have exaggerated a bit, but it did feel like the clouds were lifted.

  Every year we race to get all of the curriculum taught before state testing. Once it's over, I take a deep breath and always ask the same what?  With a month left of school, and all the state standards taught, there's an opportunity to....should I say it? Let the kids be creative!

One project that allows my kiddos to apply what they've learned while putting their own creative spin to it, is the Peculiar Plant Project.

Here is a list of tasks the students do for the project:

Task 1: Draw a diagram of a plant they designed with the correct anatomy of a real plant with one exception, they create a special element of their plant that no other plant has.

Task 2: Create a life cycle foldable for their plant and explain each stage.

Task 3: Write a paragraph introducing their plant, what's unique about it, where it grows, what it looks like, etc.

Task 4: Design the plant and put everything together on a poster and present their plant to the class.

The kids love this project. It allows them the freedom to utilize their creativity and own interests. I can honestly say there are no two plants alike.  Check them out:

Enjoy your after testing bliss! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Five Ways to Use Mini White Boards in the Classroom

 Sometimes the littlest things turn out to be amazingly useful for many reasons.  Post-it notes for example continue to be one of my most useful resources in the classroom. Click here to read a short post I wrote about how I use them for behavior monitoring.

  Another great invention I find myself using more and more in the classroom are mini white boards. It seems every week I find another use for them. The kids love using them also.

Here is my list of ways I use them as a resource and am sure my list will grow.

1. Guided Reading: While meeting with my reading groups, the children and I use the boards to draw graphic organizers to fill in as we read to aide with comprehension. No matter the skill I'm targeting, there is some way to use the boards to demonstrate comprehension.

2. Assessment: For a quick assessment, I often use them to ask a closing question for a lesson. The children write their answer and turn the board face down until I tell them to "reveal their answers".

3. Cursive Writing: I know. I know. The long lost art of cursive writing we hear so much about. I admit that I don't have time to spend teaching cursive everyday, but I try to make sure the kids know how to write their names in cursive. I'll introduce a couple of letters during morning work time once a week and let the kids practice on their wipe off boards once all their work is done.

4. Word Work: I use the boards to reinforce lessons on word patterns, sounds, prefixes, suffixes, etc. .If we're working on a certain suffix or prefix, we'll take our white boards with us to hunt for those words in the hallways. I tell the children to write the word and circle the suffix or prefix and underline the base word. I do the same thing with digraphs, blends, nouns, verbs, etc.  After the hunt we share what we found and make a class chart of the words to display.

5. Writing: I have used the boards for mini word banks for any type of writing we are working on. A way to differentiate is to give students that need it, their own word bank by jotting down words to help them with their writing. I might write a sentence stem on one and give it to a student struggling to get started. It's also helpful for all the kids to apply the spelling strategy "which looks right". They write the word they're not sure how to spell a couple of different ways and pick which one looks right.

I'm sure they're many more ideas for using mini white boards that I haven't mentioned. Please share some of your ideas in the comment section. 😊

Sunday, January 29, 2017

BDA Reading Questions

 With our second set of conferences right around the corner, I'm anticipating many questions on how parents can help to prepare their child for the upcoming state reading test.  Rather than giving the parents a stack of practice test selections, I've created Before, During and After Reading Questions to use with authentic reading.  I designed questions that require the depth of thinking needed according to the common core standards.  I've included both reading literature and reading information text questions.  These questions are available for free at my TPT Store. In addition to passing them out to parents at conferences, here are some other ways they can be used.

  • Buddy Reading-the kiddos can take during asking each other the BDA questions as they read.
  • Guided Reading Groups
  • Information Text questions can be used with Science or Social Studies Texts
  • Book Club Discussions

     Click on the picture to download. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Let's Talk Christmas Countdown

   Fifteen days and counting. Well..eleven days until Christmas Break.  Channeling the excitement of the season into productive learning can be a challenge this time of the year to say the least.  There are days I want to throw my hands in the air and yell "I give up!", put on some Christmas music, make crafts, and dance around. Then, there's that little nagging voice in my head telling me that I need to get them ready for a test. I can't veer far from my pacing guide or they won't be ready.  Uggh! The "T" word dampens my spirits like no other.
   So, my solution? Compromise. Stick to the pacing guide and dig deep into the creative recesses of my brain.  After doing this, I came up with my Let's Talk Trees Persuasive Writing Unit.

Here is my checklist for creating the unit:

  • Needs to be engaging and Christmas related...✔
  • High Interest...✔
  • Common Core aligned...✔
  • Follows pacing map..Close Read Information Text✔ Point of View✔Opinion Writing✔
  • Fun for the kids✔
 We spent a week on the unit and yes, listened to Christmas music also. The topic of a real tree versus a fake tree for Christmas sparked some interesting debate. It surprised me how opinionated the children were on the topic. To tie in the "crafty" part, I allowed the children to write the reasons for their opinions on ornament templates and then design them. I displayed the ornaments on  our bulletin board with the tree of their choice.

To learn more about the unit you can click the picture below to download a preview. 

Merry Christmas and enjoy your remaining days before break!  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

You Might Be a Teacher If

After a long week, I decided to post something fun that we can all relate to. 

Have a good weekend!  

                                                                                              Teach on,


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