Monday, July 14, 2014

Big changes ahead (and Monday Made It)

My life is changing in a big way.  I decided to move schools and grade levels...AND I'm buying my first house.  As I was deciding, I let blogging get too far away but I am feeling inspired and renewed so I'm back at it.
Famous saying by George Bernard Shaw.
Change can be scary. I'm leaving my friends and the students I have loved for the past four years.  But I'm ready for a new adventure!  And the best part is that I will be teaching second grade next door to my close friend. 
" Making a big life change is scary. But know what's even scarier? REGRET." #Chitrchatr #EarlySubscribersPromo
Today was the first day I spent in my new room.  This room is much smaller than my old room and I was nervous but it was all for nothing because everything fits!  (I still have a ton of work to do but I would say today was a great start.)

I got a moving van to haul all my stuff to the new school. I thought a 10 foot truck would be perfect but they only had a 17 foot truck.  Thank goodness that happened because we only JUST got it all in.
This is the inside of the truck :-/
So my first task, after dumping it all in the new room and walking away from it for a week and a half, was to organize my books.  I lost a lot of shelf space.
Here are my old shelves from the old room:
On top were my leveled books and below were fiction books.
Here were all my non-fiction texts.


My leveled books stayed the same.  I had to reduce and reorganize my fiction and non-fiction libraries in a MAJOR way.  The fiction texts are in the colored baskets.
More fiction texts.  The black baskets are now filled with my non-fiction texts.
 The empty baskets are the students' book bins.

Then I moved on to the large bulletin boards on either side of the board.  They are a major improvement to my one dinky bulletin board before.

Here are views of the full classroom as it is now.

 I had to bring over my favorite area from my old room!  I love displaying the students' writing in these frames from Lakeshore.

Here is our meeting area (it still needs a rug).

For my Monday Made-It I created a dry erase word wall.  You need peel and stick transparent covering and letters.  My letters are from Wal-Mart in the back to school section.

I decided to center the covering.  I started at the top and stuck three inches on.  Then I slowly uncovered more of the covering and rolled it down the door so it stuck without bubbles.

Then I stuck the letters on with duct tape.

Finally, I was able to write words on the covering with a dry erase marker.  I look forward to the ease of writing it on rather than printing, laminating and taping each word on.

I'm in love with it!

With all these changes, I am feeling excited about the future and all there is to come! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


To introduce our living/nonliving/plants/animals unit we started with the four questions a scientist would ask.  I combined charts that I saw by Krazy in Kindergarten and Mini Muffin Mondays.  

Then we explored living and non living with gummy worms and meal worms.

The students recorded their evidence in their journals along with a drawing. 

Here are the lessons my team used for the first four days of the unit.

Then we moved into plants...
...and grew grass!

 In the third week we moved on to the needs of animals and humans.

Freebie for Science Journals ----> Animal Needs Exploration
Click on the link or picture.  It will take you to Google Drive.  Select File, then Download and it will be all yours!
Together we explored nonfiction texts to see how different species have slightly different needs.  Then I gave a book to each table (each different) animals and they had to do the same thing in a foldable.

Next up is a habitat a week! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing realistic fiction stories

One of my favorite parts of the school day is writing time.  I love joining together on the carpet to discuss what writers do, I love the mini-lessons that are to the point, I love hearing Martha Stewart's lullabies everyday and I love scooting in beside a writer and conferring.

This year we have incorporated Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for the Common Core.  I have to say I like it a lot better than the old Units of Study but still love to create my own lessons. Below are charts based off the charts in the book (with slight changes).
I really love the checklist for each genre.  My students are constantly at the chart or looking at their personal one inside their writing folder.

I said above that I love creating my own lessons.  If you have read my blog before you know I love to use mentor texts as examples.  In every genre, we use several books to name authors' introductions and conclusions.  It can be quite eye opening what the students notice.
For this realistic fiction chart we used Junie B. Jones, Mittens, Amelia Bedelia, and Knuffle Bunny.

For this next chart we really explore one text, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child.  Everyone in my classroom loves Charlie and Lola, including me!
To prepare the chart I only have the title and the book pages.  The students decide how to label what the author is doing. 

An ABSOLUTE must for our writing time is a rubric with writing examples that we call Stage Pages.  Before the unit our first grade team reads over the rubric for the county and we create pages that look like Emerging, Progress with Support, Meeting and Exceeding.  We keep them in page protectors so we can model how to add on to a paper that isn't meeting standards or how to enhance a meeting to an exceeding story.

Three stars = meeting standards

The students and I refer to the rubric every day.  We make goals for our time each day based off the rubric and it really helps to refer to during conferring.

NOW comes the number one thing that influences my students writing....other student's writing!
Each day we start our workshop by admiring someone else's work.  I purposefully select students' work that hits on the lesson from the day before, shows tremendous growth, hits on our lesson of the day, or extends the  work we've been doing but tries something new.  By the end of the unit (20 days), I usually have selected  a page from each student.  

During the workshop, I usually try to look out for pages to admire.  I'll say to the student, "At the end of writing can I borrow your paper?"  Then I make a copy (so we can keep it up in the classroom) and then the only other thing you need is Post-Its.

Happy Writing!