Sunday, June 30, 2013


Congratulations to 180 Days and Counting and Tabitha Savage of Totally Sweet Math Centers by Tabitha!  They are each celebrating 100 Followers!  We know how hard that is!  Thanks for letting us be a part of your big GIVEAWAY!  Watch for more info tomorrow!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ten Black Dots.....Creativity!

I was looking through my files last night and came upon an activity that I used to do the first week of school.  It was an activity that inspired creative thinking and I miss those types of activities.  Don't you?  loved this activity because it's so simple. You just need the book, Ten Black Dots, by Donald Crews, colored dot stickers, and my book template.  I like to use the primary colored dots like this:
But you can use any brand or color!  Each student will need 55 stickers but you will need to buy a bunch because the kids will use a variety of colors. 
Discuss the creativity Crews uses in each page of his book.  I like to use a piece of chart paper to create my own page and discuss my expecations for this project. (They aren't many--remember, this book is about creativity!)  Next, I turn on inspirational music and let the kids go to town.  I allow them about 30-40 minues a day.  This is so nice for me because the kids are busy and I can get a few extra minutes to catch up ALL of the work there is to do that first week of school.  And my kids are using CREATIVITY-a much needed skill for the 21st Century!  Click on either image below to take you to my TPT store!

I forgot to mention that I would have a parent bind each student's book so they could have their own book.  I have a basket in my classroom library called Our Class Books.  Students put their books there so other kids can read them throughout the year. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time Assessment Freebie

I have been using this very quick and simple time assessment the past few years in my classroom.  It is a very easy way for me to tell which students are still struggling with time (and also easy to grade which is always a bonus).  After looking over these, I now know what students still need to work on time and which ones need to be pushed a little bit further.  I have attached some pictures and a link to get this freebie.  Enjoy!



Our new reading series has arrived!  My Tools for Teaching post today is all about how to organize all of the materials so I know where all of the materials are at!!

This year our school system adopted Scott Foresman Reading Street.  I am very excited to dive into this new reading series but I have to be honest, sometimes organization is not always my strong suite!  Today, I want to get some ideas of how you organized when you received a brand new series and how you best utilized storage of all the materials!

***These boxes are for the whole grade level***

I thought it would also be neat to share some thoughts/ideas of what you have done with Reading Street that has made a BIG impact with your students.  If you have this series, please share so we can all benefit from what others have proven to be effective.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Poetry Launch and a Freebie

I was working on my materials for my Genre Connections Poetry Launch when I thought it was about time I share some FREEBIES!  I am hopeful that you can use these in a Smart Notebook lesson, create a poster, or just as a "think sheet" for your kiddos.  Be sure to follow our blog for more freebies as I work my way through the book, Genre Connections, by Tanny McGregor. 

Web Wednesday & Tanny McGregor

I love summer!  I went to school to meet with Emily, stopped by the library and grocery store, spent a couple of hours in the sun, and took a nap!  While I was out in the sun, I reread Tanny McGregor's new book, Genre Connections.  She is filled with great ideas about introducing different genres to the students using concrete items.  Since introducing genres is something I do at the beginning of the year, I thought I would blog about her book and find some of the WEB links that she references when introducing poetry. (for our first WEB WEDNESDAY!)

The first genre launch that Tanny describes is Poetry.  The concrete item that she uses to introduce it is a jar and she poses the question:  How is poetry like a jar?  She goes on to describe the thinking and discussions that follow and let me tell you that it's powerful.  She definitely gets the students using higher level thinking. 

She includes sensory exercises in each genre introduction as well.  Her first one for poetry is a music connection with Ella Fitzgerald. 

Tanny encourages you to have your students listen to Ella scat through the following songs:

Finally, Tanny suggests some pictures books (I can't tell you everything from the book!) that you might want to read to your students and recommends discussing the similarities between the genre of poetry and Ella's musical style. 

To complete the poetry launch, Tanny suggests introducing students to Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) as an art connection.  Below are some of his pieces to show to your students. (all found using Google)
 First Landing Jump (1961)
Monogram (1955-1959) 
 Pilgrim (1950)


Satellite (1955) 
 Untitled:  Man with White Shoes (1954)
Coca Cola Plan (1958)

 Ask you students: How was Rauschenberg like a poet?  She gives some great discussion starters as well. 

Whew--that was a long post!  I sure hope you can use something for your classroom as you introduce genres to your students.  I know I plan to make a Smart Notebook to go right along with this book so that all of the links are ready for me to use.  I also plan to go shopping to get the concrete items suggested to introduce the different genres.  Ready for your list:  glass jar (or any kind of container), various prisms, clothespins and two types of material (I want this for each student), small, blank cardboard puzzle, cereal boxes from home, hand mirror, and seed packets.

Think of the variety of ways that you are reaching your students with this lesson.  Talk about multiple intelligences. 

Thanks, Tanny, for your outstanding work!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Technology Question/Input

Hello!  Beth and I were asked to put together a list of teacher websites/blogs and different technology that we use in our classroom.  On our first teacher day back, we rotate every ten minutes to different stations and we are going to be one of the stations this year!  That got us thinking about how to make this the most effective and beneficial for the teachers.  My question to you is:

What kind of technology do you love to use in your classroom or do you have a really good website that you can't live without?

It would be great to get as many comments as we can on here so we can ALL benefit from the variety of resources out there.  Our goal is to do a once a month training on a different component of technology for our teachers.  We will post anything that we come up with!

Hope everyone is having a great summer - amazing how fast it is flying by!


Friday, June 14, 2013

BIG 600 Follower Giveaway from Reading Toward the Stars!!

Congratulations to Andrea Crawford from Reading Toward the Stars!  She has reached 600 followers and is celebrating with a huge SUMMER GIVEAWAY!  Emily and I know how hard it is to get started in this blogging world so we are super excited for her.

Andrea graciously let us join her giveaway and we couldn't be more thrilled.  She has also given us lots of tips to help us get our blog noticed.  Thanks, Andrea!!

Here's the link for her 600 Follower Summer Giveaway! 

Just click the button to take you to the big Giveaway!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Debbie Diller Workshop!

Emily and I got to attend a Debbie Diller Literacy Stations Workshop today.  After reading many of her books, it was great to see and hear her in person.  Here are some ideas I especially liked:

1.  Take digital photos of kids using stations.  Send to parents as a way to show them what kids are doing during Literacy Station Time.
2.  Take one station at a time and highlight it in your classroom blog or newsletter.
3.  Have students take notes while watching a video because it's usually easier with a video than a book.
4.  Have a testing station-I especially liked the Question Maker Station for this.  Students read test passages together and answer questions about it.  Next, they write their own questions.  Your advanced learners can not only write their own questions but create the answer list too.
5.  Use a Research Station.  I know my kids would love, love, love this!!
6.  Use a Science Station with topics related to science and math.  Love a way to incorporate STEM ideas here!
7.  Debbie suggested using Community Journals in stations as a way for students to record their thinking. 
8.  Use audio in your Fluency Stations.  Tape record students and let them listen to themselves read.  I have Flip Cameras that I think I might use for this. She also recommended having a fluency rubric in this station for students to assess themselves.
9.  Create "I Can" statements with students not FOR students. (I'm so guilty of the FOR thing!!)
10.  Assign "Station Inspectors" jobs.  Your two "Station Inspector" students evaluate stations after they have been used and report their findings to the class. 

I am going to be evaluating my Lit Stations to decide what changes I want to make for next year.  What works for you?  Tell me your favorite station that you use in your classroom!  What changes will you be making in your Lit Stations???? 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How Do You Control Noise Level in your Classroom?

As another year has ended, I take a look back and ask myself what things I could have done better or changed to make things run a little more smoothly.  I always struggle with noise level and what is appropriate.  I know that I am more accepting of noise than some other people but I also know that there is a time and place for it to be quiet in my classroom.  I really worked hard this year on my expectations for Lit Stations and also the noise level associated with that.  This morning, I came across an adorable sound check visual that I think I will be making this summer.  Thank you so much to Totally Terrific in Texas for this great idea.  Head over to her blog to get this freebie!!

Click on the picture to be taken to Totally Terrific in Texas' blog for this great resource!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Winner of our Rafflecopter Giveaway

Congratulations to Leigh Langton from The Applicious Teacher!
She won two sets of our DIFFERENTIATED CORE CARDS!  You can follow her blog at:  Thanks to all who participated!
 Photobucket Photobucket