Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reading Logs and W.O.D.

Happy Wednesday!  Before I get started for today, I just want to say that I just can't believe how much I love my new job.  Even with the significant behavior problems I've had to deal with this week (must be the full moon), I'm still having a great week.  I have some wonderfully fun kids.

This week my focus is on tweaking several of my classroom activities so that they fit my teaching style and student needs.  Since I accepted this job the week before school started - I had planned to sub this year - I did not have much time to plan.  My partner shared all of her plans with me, and I jumped right in to the year.  Now after having a little time to get adjusted, I am beginning to figure out what will work better for me as I instruct these great kids.  One of our big focuses in this class is to increase student vocabulary, so this week we started a Word of the Day activity.  I have several vocabulary maps and think charts that work great for this; however since this is new to most of my students, I wanted a simpler form to use at first.  I came up with a half sheet that gets straight to the point.

Word of the Day

This week I also started a daily reading log with my students.  I have a great one that is for an entire week, but once again, since this process is completely new most of my students, I created a single day form that they can fill out once a week.  I can then use this as a formative assessment.  This too is a half sheet, so I may print them on the back of the W. O. D. sheets for a few weeks. 

Daily Reading Log

 Have a great week!Pin It

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Change of Scenery

After a lengthy break from this blog, I'm back to update and announce some changes.  After losing my job due to budgetary adjustments last spring, and then looking at all sorts of jobs throughout the summer, I took a job as a high school reading teacher at a large urban school.  Since I left an affluent, suburban elementary school, you would think this would be a huge adjustment.  That hasn't been the case at all.  A few years ago, I taught summer school at this same school so I knew what to expect, and that helped me make the decision.  I have already found that there isn't much difference between teaching 1st grade readers and 10th grade struggling readers - the skills you work on are the same, it's just a different setting.  So far, I am truly enjoying my new position.

There aren't a great deal of high school blogs out there, so I'm hopeful that I can be a resource for other HS teachers.  I will continue to share any of my materials that I use.  Many of the organizers and activities I have created will work across grades and subject areas. Here is one I am using for text connections:

Text Connections

I may also open a Teacher's Notebook shop.  I am a reading teacher without books, dictionaries, etc. - I want to try to build up some materials for my students, and that might be a good way to do so.  Have a great weekend!Pin It

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fabulous Finds

One of my projects this summer has been to create a Words with Friends poster. I first found a couple of fonts that look like scrabble tiles, printed them on card stock, and had them laminated. While working on this I came up with a bunch of literacy ideas, so I made several sets of tiles and had them laminated as well.

Here comes the fabulous find part of this entry.  Today I went to Sam's Club looking for classroom books.  What I found was this:

What a fabulous resource for my letter tiles!  I am going to use these activities for everything - there are 130 different ones in the book, and then you figure those 130 generate at least as many new ideas.  Some of the activities are more involved, so I'm thinking I will have them made into file folder games.  What I love is that the book has some great activities for specific skills; such as for bossy r and long 'a' words.  Great find. 

Here are a few other things I bought there for great prices:

They had these Brain Quest games for every grade level - the topics and questions are aligned with the latest common core standards.

I have a similar set like this and my first graders loved it.  This one isn't color coded, but still seems like a good game to develop various different skills.  Last year I made a few different activity sheets that went with the game I already had, and they should work with this one as well. 

I didn't find any books, but I think these items are great finds that will be great fun for my students!

Pin It

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ready to Roll - Websites for any Occasion

Like many teachers, I find myself waiting out the summer wondering where I will be come the first day of school.  After the referendum went down in our district, many teachers were let go - starting with those of us who had not yet received tenure.  I have spent the summer applying for positions and visiting schools.  To make sure that I am not to far behind when I do land a position, I have been trying to get going on projects that will help me regardless of where I end up this fall.  My big project has been creating a new website.  I actually have three started - I want to make sure that I have one that fits a particular situation.  Here's a screen shot of one of them:

It's a google site, so not too difficult to figure out for bloggers.  I made the banner by following directions at .  I wish I could remember which blog I found this on!  I made a color pallet and design for the banner at, and did my text overlay on picmonkey - a little different than the tutorial did.  All three are pretty similar, just different designs.  I'm ready to jump into any situation!

I'm also working on some literacy and math manipulative activities, and I will post as soon as they are complete.  Message me if you want any help.  Hope you can use this info!

Pin It

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Organization: A head start or just catching up?

Now that the newness of summer is wearing off, I am ready to jump into next school year.  Since I am still looking for a new school to call home, I decided to do some organizing to make sure I'm ready when something comes along.  Last year I kept most of my original copies of lessons and activities in file cabinets.  My system was not ideal, and it seemed like I was always looking for something ten minutes longer than I should have been.  When it came time to pack up and move out, my file folder system was even more of a pain.  Now I have so many important plans and activities that seem to be all over the place.  A while back I had seen a system that another teacher had devised using binders.  The teacher's name is Amanda Terhune, and her blog is called "Mrs. Terhune's First Grade Site."  Brilliant.  I used her idea and developed a system of my own.  I made binders for different subject areas so that I can store the various activities all in one place.  It really does make so much more sense to me to have a more portable and easily accessible system.  Now I feel like I'm getting ahead of the game, rather than just catching up from last year.  Here are some pics:

I also made spine labels:

I'm already starting to file items, which makes me feel like I'm ahead of the game.  I also made binders for fall, winter, spring, summer, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Years, and Valentines/St. Patrick's Day.  The school I worked at this past year allowed activities that celebrate the commercial aspects of various holidays, so I found that I had quite a few activities related to these occasions.  I wanted to keep them separate from the basic seasonal activities for convenience.  Sorry I don't have pictures of those ones!  

I can already see how this system will make it so much easier to find what I need, not to mention that the portability of the system will make it easier to stay organized when moving items around.  I would love to hear what you all think, especially if you have used a system like this.  Have a great week!Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We had a Ball! Final activity of the year

As our theme week concluded, we celebrated beach day.  As a final activity, the students made a beach ball book of memories.  Each of the students wrote about times that they "had a ball" in school this year, on circular writing paper.  The students then made a beach ball out of tracers and construction paper.  Once again, I used clip art to make the tracers as well as the ball.  The students cut out stripes in the colors of their choosing, and glued them to the ball.  On the back of the ball we stapled their memory pages.  I loved hearing about the events that they enjoyed, especially the ones that I had forgotten or had felt the kids were not as engaged as I would have liked.  Lesson learned: never give up on a lesson or activity!  Different students connect to different things, and that value is immeasurable!

Pin It

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Olympic Pride

On the final two days of our Sports and Games mini-unit, my students learned about the Olympic Games.  They were excited to learn about the history, but were also engaged as we completed science and math activities.  It was especially interesting to see the students make connections to their Foss Science units of Air and Weather and Balance and Motion.  As a literacy extension, the children learned about the goals set by athletes hoping to make it to the London 2012 games, and the commitment it takes to achieve these goals.  The students completed a writing assignment about what event they might like to compete in, and what they think it would take to be part of the Olympics.  Some students even created new events, complete with rules and diagrams. 

Download "If I Were and Olympian" writing prompt here.

As a final piece, the students created a patriotic decoration they could display throughout the summer: Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and during the Olympics. I let each student choose a piece of construction paper for a background, and the rest of the paper came from our scrap collection. The students were given minimal directions, and had creative freedom to design a "Olympic poster".  Many of the students included the Olympic rings and the torch into their designs.  When the posters were complete, each student chose 12 strips of paper that I had them glue to the bottom.  Since I wanted the outcome to be a surprise, I did not tell them why - they all thought I was crazy!  After this step, I had them curl the poster into a tube and glue.  We then added a string hanger to the top, and all of the kids figured it out: a paper wind sock.  I love mystery projects, because the kids have to listen carefully to directions if they want to get to the final product.  These turned out great.  We sent them home with their writing piece, and many of the kids even attached their writing to the final project.  I told them to display them with pride, and one of my students replied, "Olympic Pride!"

Pin It

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who has a question? Comprehension Questions for Higher Thinking

All year my students have been completing "think and respond" questions at the end of their weekly stories.  A while back, I started to notice in our reading group discussions that the students were learning how to answer questions, but were not always thinking beyond the questions.  I designed a worksheet for the students to complete individually, that forced them to think about their stories from a different angle.  We then used these questions for our reading group discussions.  For the first couple of weeks, the questions were very simple and did not require much thought.  When we had our final discussions of the year, I was so pleased with the higher level thinking questions my first graders came up with for the group!  Their comprehension of the events and understanding of the author's intent has come so far since September.  My goal is to come up with more activities that encourage this kind of thought for next year, and engage the children in a way that makes them feel confident and proud.

You can download the worksheet here:
Literacy Asking QuestionsPin It

Hike and Scavenger Hunt Activity - Part 2

This is one of the activities that our team completed as a follow up to our hike.  This is an activity that one of our teachers found online, and we each tweaked it a bit to fit our class needs.  I made boot templates from a coloring sheet, so each of the students could choose a color and create their own boots.  The writing portion of the project was completed first, and I was so pleased with the work the students completed.  I encouraged complete sentences, descriptive language, and multiple items, and I received above and beyond that.  I was so proud of these kids as they did high quality work the last week of school, amidst the excitement and changes in their daily routine.

Pin It

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt

After a couple of weeks of report cards, assessments, and packing up, I'm finally back to blogging!  I have so many new things to share, it may take a couple of weeks to get it all posted!
This is our last week of school, and each day has a theme.  Tomorrow is Camping Day.  We are going to make s'mores in the sun, read about camping in our state, and go on a nature hike.  To make the hike more engaging, I just created a scavenger hunt worksheet.  This year, our science units were Air and Weather, Plants and Animals, and Balance and Motion.  For the hunt, I asked questions that would encourage the kids to think about topics we studied.  After the nature hike, the students will use the items they found to create an acrostic poem, and a short essay about everything the saw, heard and felt.  It should be a good time, and a great way to help them stay on task when they are so excited for vacation to begin. 

Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt Download

Happy Hiking!

Pin It

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Game Time! Classroom Sudoku & Boggle

As we finish up the year, my first and second graders are doing a mini unit on Sports, Games, and Play.  We are talking about the different types of play and activities, and what good sportsmanship looks like in all types of games.  Since my first grade literacy students are familiar with Boggle, and my second grade mathematicians have been playing Sudoku since the beginning of the year, I decided to make poster games for both activities.  For the rest of the year, I will change the games every couple of days.  The students will be allowed to work on the games individually as a fast finisher activity, and with partners at other times. 

I have seen numerous versions of Boggle on Pinterest, and decided to use various ideas to make my own.  I found the letters on , and printed them on card stock.  I had both the poster and letters laminated, and then put Velcro on all of the pieces.  I barely had the game on the wall and the kids were finding words!  I also made simple worksheets for the kids to use as they find words.

My second graders love playing Sudoku.  We started the year playing the 4 x 4 version, moved to the 6 x 6, and now we are working on the full 9 x 9 version.  What I like about this activity, is that it teaches logical and spatial reasoning in a way that is engaging and enjoyable for my class.  The board I made does not have grid lines.  I did this on purpose so that I could change between all 3 versions of the game.  For 4 x 4, I will only use the 4 squares in the top corner, for 6 x 6 the top two rows, and the whole board for 9 x 9.  I will be able to use this activity in class no matter what grades I teach in the future.  I wish that I had had this for an activity to complete with my high school reading students who were working on inference and logic skills! 

I used a 22" x 28" piece of tag board, pre-cut letters, and 7" x 7" squares of card stock - that is it!  I made two separate sets of numbers - a larger set for 4 x 4, and smaller for the other versions.  I will post pictures of the Sudoku game with numbers tomorrow.  The kids are so excited to start playing the "big board" version!

Sudoku Tiles 1

Sudoku Tiles 2Pin It

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mastering Multiples

My second grade math students started learning the basics of multiplication today.  We first started with with skip counting, and then moved on to some multiple riddles.  We practices making groups and then using the "count by" strategy.  The area that seemed to give my students the most trouble was setting up an equation.  I created this visual to help them to further understand what each part of the equation represents.  To practice, I have chosen several riddles from the book "The Grapes of Math," and will have the students set up equations using this chart.  I printed extra copies so that the students can use one while they complete their assignments; just until they are grasping the concept and feeling more confident. 

You can download the worksheet here.
Mastering MultiplesPin It

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bouquet for Mom

We had so much fun today making bouquets of flowers for all of the kids' moms.  First the kids made 5 flowers, complete with stems and leaves.  On the back of each flower, the students wrote household chores or fun things to do with their mom.  Then the kids made a flower pot pocket attached to a piece of white construction paper, and added a Mother's Day sentiment.  The flowers slid right into the pocket.  All of the kids were so excited about giving this gift, and I think that was because they had the opportunity to choose what chores or activities they put on the card.  I love seeing them so excited about their work!  I saw some beautiful hearts today, that is for sure!

Pin It

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Don't Be Crabby ...

As the year comes to an end, I wanted a way to count down the final days.  All year we have kept track with stars on the wall the number of days of school.  Once we reached one hundred, we started counting backwards.  Since there are 21 days of school left, and I have 21 students, I decided to make a board where each student could represent one of the final days.  As we pass a day, one student will get to move a star from the wall and put it by their crab.  I came up with the design for this idea from a few similar projects on Pinterest: gave me the idea for the phrase, and a hand paint/print crab project that I can no longer find.  My kids made the crabs by tracing their hand two times,  overlapping the hands, and then gluing google eyes to the top of the thumbs.  This project was fun for the kids and super quick to complete.  I love that we have a hands on count down to end the year as well!

Pin It

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Swing into Spring! Baseball Activity

Spring activities are so fun, but so many of them seem to be along the same lines: flowers, insects, rain, and sun.  Since we had done several multidisciplinary activities along these lines, I wanted to do something different.  Then I got another middle of the night idea - Baseball!  I came up with a literacy activity today, but have plans to tie the sport into our new science unit on balance and motion, as well.  Today we watched a video about baseball and opening day, and then talked about other activities that get people excited about spring.  The students then did some independent writing - Swing into Spring.  We made baseballs using tracers that I made, and put the two pieces together.  I covered our "wall" (a pole that serves as our art display area) with green paper and added a baseball diamond.  I also took pictures of the kids posing with a baseball bat, and their picture will go in the middle of the baseball.

Here is some individual student work.  The first is a first grader's work, and the next is a second grader's project.  The kids wrote about everything from playing tennis and running marathons to finding bugs and going for bike rides.  These two examples just happen to be about baseball.

I also will be making a sign for the wall that says "Swing into Spring".  I will not post pics of the completed wall, as it will have all of the student pictures on the projects, and I want to protect their privacy.  I hope to find more baseball ideas this weekend that I can tie into our lessons.  I am so excited to wrap up the school year this way!

Pin It

Friday, May 4, 2012

Seussical! Parade of Things Banner

Today was our first and second grade musical, and it was a huge success!  The production was excerpts from "Seussical" the musical.  Each class completed a Seuss-themed project to decorate the hallway outside the gym.  I wanted to do something a bit different, so I had the kids make a poster wishing the other classes good luck.  I had seen hand printed Thing 1 and Thing 2 characters on Pinterest a while back. (I did not pin it, so I cannot give credit - I wish I could because they were adorable!)  I had the kids created a "parade of Things" by first stamping a Thing body in red, and then a thing head and face in blue and white.  When this part had dried, we added a Thing number to the center (a piece of printed card stock), and each kid drew their Thing's face with a blue sharpie.  I then made our good luck sign and it was ready to go.  This was the easiest project I have done with kids in a LONG time!

Here are a few pics from the set:

We had such a great time!  I can't wait to get the DVD.  Their families were all so proud, as well they should be!
Pin It

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My White Board Solution - Laminated Card Stock

My students use white boards every day.  It never fails, we always need more boards at a lit center or in the math area.  Since white boards aren't cheap, I decided to make extra boards by laminating card stock.  Now, rather than moving boards around all day long, I can have stack in different places throughout the room.  The best part is that they take up hardly any space!  I can keep about 30 of them in a file folder.  I even thought of making file folder white boards!

I have had an ongoing problem with white boards, storage, and math class this year.  We have math class in our meeting area by our Promethean board, and every day the kids are bringing white boards, markers, erasers, pencils, and their activity books.  Materials get mixed up, forgotten, or broken constantly.  For the obsessive organizer, this is chaos!  Today, I finally think I came up with a solution.  I took some "card stock white boards" and attached them to the back of a few students' math folders.  The students will have their white boards with them all of the time.  I don't have to store them, and now there is one less thing for the kids to keep track of daily.  I plan to have my "test" students use these new boards until the end of the year and see how it goes.  Maybe this will be a great solution~


Now, on to "Seussical" - my students have their spring musical on Friday, and each of the nine first and second grade classes are completing a Seuss project to decorate the gym.  We started ours today and it is already adorable.  Pictures to come tomorrow! 

Pin It

Monday, April 30, 2012

More Looking for Long Vowels...Digraphs!

Here is the latest addition to my long vowel activities.  This activity can be completed independently or with other students.  There is a separate worksheet for each long vowel sound and digraphs, which makes differentiation fairly easy.  I designed the activity to meet the needs of my first grade students in the Words Their Way middle vowels category; however the activity also lends itself to enhancing and supporting the skill sets introduced in our class reading curriculum.  My goal with these activities is to make my students more aware of what they are reading, and to help them practice both the silent 'e' and digraph spelling patterns.  My next step is to design another level of activities that requires the students to apply what they have learned in both reading and writing.  Let me know what you think, and if anyone might try using these with their students.
Here is a sample~

You can download all 5 vowel sheets here

Pin It

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great Pyramids Spelling

Here is another spelling activity that my students have been doing most of the year.  I had heard of spelling pyramid activities before, but my first graders needed a visual in order to complete the activity correctly.  This double sided worksheet has worked great.  Since using this, they are also able to spell in other shapes as well; such as a diamond and reverse pyramid. 

You can download the Great Pyramids worksheet here .

I am still working on some more long vowel search activities, as well as another word building and changing activity.  As soon as I pull something together, I will post it for download.  If anyone has an ideas for improvements, I would love to hear them!

Pin It

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spelling Tests!

So many spelling tests and so little time!  As I continue to work through the Words Their Way methods, I wanted a way for both my students and I to get the most out of our weekly spelling tests.  I first tried basic writing paper, but found that I needed something that was easier to look at and grade.  I then tried a few different spelling test forms I found online, but none of them seemed to give me everything I wanted.  I decided I wanted something that would be easy to correct, provide students with additional practice space when needed, and a parent/guardian component.  Since I couldn't find what I needed, I made one!  So far, I love this form.  I have even had the form printed on different colors for each group of kids and their sort.  Doing this has helped me so much to stay organized.  The best part is, I know if parents & guardians are seeing the test each week.

You can download the Spelling Test herePin It

Monday, April 23, 2012

Looking for Long Vowels

This is an activity I designed to help my first graders recognize and decode long vowel/silent 'e' words when reading.  The students either use their current guided reading text or decodable book.  As they read, they search for words, and as they find them they write them down under the correct vowel.  I have found that the students pay more attention to what they are reading, rather than quickly skimming over difficult or unfamiliar words.  Since the long vowel/silent 'e' is an important element in first grade, this has proved to be an excellent activity for extra practice.

You can download the Looking for Long Vowels worksheet here
Pin It

Sunday, April 22, 2012

United States Symbols Book Cover

Earlier this year, my first and second grade students completed a Social Studies unit on United States symbols and landmarks.  The students completed projects and graphic organizers for the various places and things, and then compiled all of their work into a book.  I wanted the cover to be different from those of other classes, so I asked the students to help come up with an idea.  We came up with several ideas, and then voted as a class.  (Of course I turned the vote into a Social Studies lesson and a math/graphing lesson - wouldn't want to miss a potential teaching moment!).  The cover isn't overly flashy, but it was student created, which makes it so much more important to the kids. 

Each student traced 3 stars and layered them on the front of the cover.  I printed off title and name labels, and the kids cut and pasted them into place.  That was it!  It turned out so clean and patriotic!Pin It

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Flip, Slide, Turn! (again)

My second grade mathematicians have been working on some tricky geometric concepts: flip, slide, and turn.  This is not an original idea, but I'm sharing it because it truly worked for my 2nd grade students.  One of my team members did this activity, and I liked it so much I wanted to give it a try.  I'm so glad that I did, because the kids enjoyed completing the activity.  I had the students start by cutting out six hands.  We then practiced each of the concepts a few times as a whole group before I set them loose to glue and label.  Good luck!

Pin It