Friday, September 30, 2011

Primary to Intermediate Persuasion!

So, this might make me sound a wee bit crazy, but I have enjoyed transitioning into a new grade-level!! Teaching a new grade-level is like having a blank canvas to paint on, and it is DEFINITELY keeping me on my toes! :) But, of course, I REALLY miss my sweet second grade babies. Lately I have been thinking of all the fun I had with my class last year. I'm brainstorming ways that I can take some of my favorite primary stuff and amp it up for my big kiddos!

Last year, my amazing team worked on creating an advertising and persuasion unit that we LOVED teaching!

We learned about persuasion and wrote persuasive letters. Then, we learned about ad campaigns. I tried to really have them analyze the tactics of different forms of advertisements. ie, Jingles are supposed to be catchy so they will stick in your head. Billboards are supposed to be large and with few words so that you read them as you drive by, etc etc.

The kids worked in groups to create their own ad campaigns about a candy of their choice. They wrote commercials and jingles all on their own, and let me tell you, they were a hoot!!! Then, we created slogans and billboards...

(This one says "The Ultimate Kiss" was so hard not to laugh when they told me this was their slogan.)

As you can tell, I was VERY hands-off with these, because I really wanted the design, sketch, planning etc to really be their own...These sweet little billboards make me smile, because it is genuine 2nd grade work all the way!! :)

(The group above wrote their jingle to the tune of "Firework" by Katy Perry, complete with choreography. Absolutely hysterical.)

(Notice the "Gummy Bears are at CVS"? haha)

So now, I've got to find a way to make this into a 5th grade unit...I really want to do something with social media as a form of advertising! Any ideas?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

CAFE Fluency Fun

I have been introducing the CAFE strategies these past few weeks. The fluency strategy I am focusing on most is "use punctuation to enhance phrasing." I wanted to do something that would have students focus on paying attention to ending punctuation and quotations while supporting comprehension.

My reading specialist and I have been discussing the benefits of using individual chapters of a book to teach a skill/lesson with the older students. It exposes them to great literature, and can also perk their interest in reading the whole book. **Works especially well with any chapter that is gross or funny :)

*A librarian I spoke with said that it is legal to photo copy a page from children's literature for instructional purposes. So, off I went...

I pulled out this classic...

In the last chapter, Peter's 3-year-old brother, Fudge, swallows his beloved pet turtle. The chapter is shocking and gross, yet very humorous! The kids L.O.V.E. it!

So...we had some highlighter fun by highlighting each speaker's words on the page. These two pages have great dialogue from Fudge, Peter and Mom. It also has TONS of exclamation points and question marks! Great for fluency practice!

After the highlighting, many kids were anxious to volunteer to read in their best *fluent* voices. We had a ball, and they were all cracking up at each other's "Fudge-Voice." It is amazing how a lesson can be so simple and easy, but it is engaging because the literature is good!

I'm sure you have done activities like this, but if you haven't tried this book, it has many great little episodic chapters. Perfect for mini lessons! I would LOVE to hear any specific books/ideas you have used for introducing CAFE strategies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You're the Inspiration!

Sweet Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics, gave me this award...

Tara's post describes it in more detail, but mainly it is supposed to be given to people who touch your heart and inspire you. Many many many blogs inspire me daily. The blog world has definitely made me a better teacher. Here are then ten blogs I chose to receive this award. When awarded you can add it to your blog and pay it forward. Thank you all for your inspiration!

Life is Better Messy Anyway!

Snyder Stories

BWS tips button

Lutton 519

A Time to Share and Create

Tales of Frogs & Cupcakes

Katie Lately

Thank you all for being wonderful bloggers! I heart you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Golden Book Award

The reading specialist at my campus is FABULOUS! She created a wonderful school-wide reading initiative with the theme of "Read Around the World"...The students move continents for reading, based on a grade-level appropriate system. They are trying to go Around the World by Christmas.

She also created a weekly award to be kept by the class with the highest percentage of "continent jumps" per week... Mrs. Fabulous Reading Specialist made this trophy herself, and I thought it was too adorable not to share...


Is that not hilarious? I love how she used a lamp base and then glued and spray painted the book and leaves. And glitter never hurts, either! My class was SO excited that we won this week!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Classroom Changes

Moving to a new grade-level has a learning curve. Here is part of mine: I didn't realize how much space the kids would take up! I know they are bigger, but it is different than I expected when they are all in a room. I did not plan well for this ! Rookie mistake! :)

My 26 precious babies were squeezed in too tight with my old arrangement, and I knew I had to make some adjustments for the sake of comfort and organization.

I had these lovely round tables at the beginning...I love tables, but I didn't have enough tables for the kids. Plus I couldn't be as flexible with the room arrangements.

But I traded them in for desks...They are still in groups, so it is working out great!

Ah, my beloved table!!! It has been my favorite place in my classroom ever since I started teaching, but it is was too large..

But this smaller replacement table has been great...

Now we are enjoying a more spacious classroom! It is crazy how a more comfortable, spacious environment helps the kids behave better.

In other news, I am so behind on blogging about some of the things we have been doing! Here is our Idioms Chart!

Also, here is an anchor chart that goes with a lesson from Tanny MccGregor's book, Comprehension Connections. It is one of my favorite professional books ever, and I would HIGHLY recommend it!

So, not my best poster but it makes the point :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Look Inside My Bag!

I'm linking up with The Inspired Apple's Teacher Bag Linky Party! I love seeing inside everyone's bag!

So I work reallllly hard to leave teaching stuff at school, so that I do mostly graduate school work at home! Of course, it doesn't always happen...

I love this VB bag because it has so many little pockets inside for pens, highlighters, etc. I have 9 writing utensils in this bag. Is that really necessary? Other items include a grad school binder with color tabs, Lilly Planner, Marzano's Vocab Book, and Lucy Calkin's "Building a Reading Life" (That's a whole other post!), school keys, chapstick and of course, stickers!

I am completely beverage-crazy. Our school had to get rid of the water machine, so now I bring 2-3 water bottles each day. I also bring a Tervis everyday because our cafeteria makes WONDERFUL iced tea. And then, most days I need my coffee mug. So I use the giant Lilly Market bag for watter bottles, Tervis Tumbler, mug, and every other miscellaneous objects I bring that day.

Seriously this bag holds EVERYTHING! Love it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Versatile Blogger

Thank you to Jordon at Life is Better Messy Anyway, for the Versatile Blogger Award!

With this award, you are supposed to link back to the person that sent it to you, share 7 things about yourself, and pass the award on!

1. I drink diet ginger ale with a bit of orange juice almost everyday. Try it!!! SO good.

2. I love having my nails painted.

3. I love shopping almost anywhere for anything- Home Depot, Dillard's, Hobby Lobby, Hancock Fabric, I like it all!! And I don't have to buy anything to be satisfied with my shopping experience, just like looking.

4. My mom and my mother-in-law are my two favorite people to shop with!

5. Confession: I LOVE doing arts and crafts with students, but I do not do crafting well. Nothing I create would ever look good as home decor. Maybe one day, I will get better...

6. Due to my lack of crafting, cooking is my creative outlet. :) Love it!

7. I love Jesus with all my heart, and church is a big part of my life.

Most all of my favorite bloggers have this award already, so I would be happy to give it out if I find a new blog that doesn't have it yet!! Thank you again Jordon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Idioms can be a Piece of Cake!!

I have really missed blogging lately!! Adjusting to fifth grade has been pretty crazy, but I feel like I am finally getting in the swing of things.

I wanted to share some material I used to teach idioms. English is FULL of idioms and they can be confusing for ELLs to understand. So last week, we learned and practiced idioms! They are a wonderful language arts skill to teach students, and it also helps their reading comprehension. I have been amazed at how many of my students have brought their books to me to show me an idiom they found in their own reading. Love it!!

Idiom Site has a great list with definitions, so it was hard for me to decide which ones to focus on, but I narrowed it down to the ones you see below. We had so much fun making flipbooks with visuals and meanings of various idioms! We also read these wonderful books...

These books are great for discussing idioms and figures of speech, and kids love the pictures!!

We also used this sorting activity..It is simple, but it was good practice. (The individual boxes didn't show up when I uploaded this for some reason, but it wouldn't matter once you cut it out.)


By the end of the week, we were working on using idioms in our writing. We are currently adding more to our Idiom anchor chart, so I will have to snap a picture of it next week! Happy Friday!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Anchor Chart Models

The school district I teach for has been very big on Daily 5 and Reading/Writing Workshop for about three years now. The younger grades usually go by the book with Daily 5. The intermediate grades do "Daily 3" (readers/writer's workshop and some variation of word work).

So, now our 5th graders know the drill of the Daily 5 launching lessons. I knew I still needed to teach those lessons to set expectations, but I wanted to change it up.

Pinterest inspired me to do something different this year..I was loving the anchor charts that included pictures of students modeling the behaviors. I took that idea and ran with it. (Thank you to whoever in the world thought of it first!)

I had the kids work in teams to create their own lists of correct and incorrect behaviors. Then, they had to model the behaviors and take pictures. The students were quite literally "models" of the behavior! They had a blast, and thought they were just hilarious...We chose the best pictures to post on the anchor chart, so it was sort of a competition...I thought the kids did a great job!

They even gave away some of their tricks. :) Like being sneaky and writing notes behind their book...

They also told me that they sometimes "fake read" when they lay down...I was happy to hear these little tidbits ha!

(Do you like how I used sticky notes to cover the prominent faces? Haha)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thank You!!

A big thanks to Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for giving me a Top 10 Award! What an honor. You probably have seen her blog already, but if you haven't, you MUST check it out!

Top 10 TBA

Friday, September 2, 2011


I just discovered a wonderful resource called Wingclips! My school counselor started using this site for some of her guidance lessons. This site allows you to look up different themes or virtues, like courage, honesty, respect, etc. It pulls up all sorts of clips from various movies.

The clips are short and perfect. Plus, I've noticed that it has a huge variety of movies. Some are for older students, but there are definitely things that can be used for young children as well.

It might take some searching and digging, but you can find some fantastic clips for all kinds of lessons. I think this goes especially well with so many of our themes and ideas we cover in reading: like this one about Rosa Parks. What a neat resource!

Happy Friday!