Friday, February 27, 2015

Five For Friday: The End of February!

I cannot believe that we have already hit the end of February! It is crazy how quickly this year is going by! We had two delayed starts this week for the weather. Wednesday night it poured down rain, but less than an hour from us people were getting snow! The weather is so crazy! 
In the midst of the crazy week we did get some stuff done... here are some of the random things that went on this week

one: I love how resourceful this child was in putting her recording sheet on the board too! ;) This is from my Vowel Team Word Building Cards activity on TPT. Go here to check it out!

two: We are still loving writing Mo Willems books! One of my kids wrote a new pigeon story called Don't let the Pigeon be Santa Claus! It is such a clever story! His reasons for what the pigeon might do are precious!

three: I love doing fun things for my teammates just about as much as I love doing things for the kids (maybe even more! ;))  I saw this recipe on pinterest and had to do it for our hallway! It is an easy treat. I set it out with some to-go cups, forks, and a note that there was whipped cream in the fridge!

four: I love getting pictures of these two boys while I am at school! Its been all about superheroes this week! They have gotten really in to dressing up in all the super hero outfits we have. Such silly boys!

Five: This was on Tuesday. If you look closely you can see some snow! (Look REALLY closely!) We had a delayed start because of this, even though most of the snow was coming down as I drove to school, and then a delayed start the next day too because of ice concerns... it's what happens when you live in South Carolina! ;) I think our chance for any real snow is about gone, I was hoping for one good snow fall to enjoy with the boys, but no such luck!

Can't wait to see what March has in store for us. Nothing too exciting I hope! ;)
I'm linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching's Five for Friday!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Teachers Are Heroes {a sale}

One thing is true, no two days of teaching are ever quite the same. 
Not when you are dealing with 18 little people who come to school each day wearing the joys, hurts, disappointments, or happiness of the day before. 
Kids, who, no matter where they slept, what they ate, or what happened the night before, need to learn to be able to navigate through life.
Not just learn academics, but life skills, thinking skills, people skills, social skills.
We don't teach just to the head anymore, we teach to the heart, the physical and emotional.

Teaching isn't a job you can "leave at school." It requires evenings, weekends, mornings. You never know if that great idea for the next lesson will pop into your head in the shower, at the store, or cooking dinner.

Most teachers I know get their paycheck, and then put some bit of it back into their teaching. Teachers put their time, resources, energy, heart into everything they do. Everyday.

Sometimes for hugs, cute notes,  the joy of watching kids finally get it.
Sometimes in return teachers get called names, pulled on, play games of chase, temper tantrums.

Regardless of what happens, teachers wake up the next morning and start it again. 

Teachers are heroes.
Don't let anyone let you think differently!

So to celebrate teachers, TPT is throwing a sale!

{click on the picture to head to my store!}

To celebrate YOU, my store will be 20% off on Wednesday, February 25. Plus if you use the code HEROES, TPT will add an extra discount!

Here are a couple of things that might help your busy teacher life a little easier!

These posters and response sheets are just the thing to help your kids as they are building their reading comprehension.
Be sure to check out my free bookmarks too! 

Lots of print-and-play games for reading or math practice! 
All you need are some dice!

Help your kids use all of their reading strategies with lots of posters, bookmarks, and more!

Be sure to head to my store to check out lots more goodies on sale! 
Don't forget to download all the freebies too!

Thanks for EVERYTHING you do!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five For Friday: The ending to a GREAT WEEK!!

Wow. This week has been a ray of sunshine in a couple of rough months! Even though it has been freezing cold and we haven't been able to go outside, everyone has been getting along and the days are going smoothly! I am so thankful and relieved to be enjoying it all so much! 

This summed up my week! Every afternoon/evening I thought about staying home the next day, but never wanted to have to figure out sub plans and work for the kids! Thankfully I found some OTC meds that worked wonders and helped me survive! ;)

Our love for Elephant and Piggie continues to grow. I have no idea how we are going to move to any other writing topic for a while! The kids have been finishing their books, starting pigeon books, then going back to new Elephant and Piggie stories! The detail in their pictures is so precious.
Their story lines are quite humorous-- Elephant and Piggie get married. They proceeded to have a lot of babies, break up, miss each other and get back together. ;)

And, the surprise endings! Piggie says, "Why didn't you say the first time?" After Elephant has spent all day trying to make her happy! We have learned lots from Mo Willems when it comes to adding our voice and expression to our writing.

My kiddos have been loving our Vowel Team word building cards, so I went ahead and made a set of the R-controlled vowels to get ready for when we study those! I've included all the letter cards you would need to build the words, but my kids love using our Lakeshore Magnetic Word Builders with them! I have had those magnets for ages, but finally feel like we are putting them to good use!

We have started the reader's theater during our Read to Someone time! I typed up some Elephant and Piggie books into a script. It is interesting listening to them start doing it without the picture support of Elephant and Piggie's expressions. But, it ties along perfectly with our IB unit. Our central idea is Expressions are used to convey meaning. I want them to realize how many cues they use to help understand what people are thinking and feeling. I think as they practice their parts more they will build more expression again, and make it more their own.

My kids now write ALL. DAY. LONG. thanks to Elephant and Piggie. They work on books as soon as they are done with morning work, during recess, and dismissal time, and any other free second they can find! One girl today told me she was going to write a book about me. She drew my family on the cover. I love it. The book is precious. 

It was such a great week to remember the joys of being a teacher. I am excited to see what the weeks ahead hold!
Be sure to head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what other teachers are up to!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five for Friday: Happy Valentine's Day {sale and a freebie}!

It's been a busy week! We get to enjoy a four day weekend now, with hopes of some snow next week! (In South Carolina it doesn't take much to get our hopes up!)

Here is what we have been up to this week:

one: We have been working on adjectives so we wrote adjective poems describing ourselves. We picked several body parts (eyes, nose, hands, feet, etc) and then wrote an adjective describing each one. They ended with an adjective and their name. The poems were so sweet!

two: I added a new freebie to my facebook page. We used several pages this week for Valentine's day, and I have a couple added for St. Patrick's, and will add more throughout the year! Graphing with fun foods always makes the kids more attentive on a crazy day or week! ;) You can go here to grab it in the fan freebies tab!

three: We have been reading lots of Mo Willems this month... well mostly Elephant and Piggie! The kids have been writing their own elephant and piggie books. Check out some of the things we have been doing with those books here.

four: We have been busy in small groups this week. I have found some patterns as I have been conferencing during independent reading and used those to plan my strategy groups this week. It is the first time in a while I felt like our guided reading groups were productive so that made me happy! You can read more about it here!

five: These valentine treats were easy, but lots of fun to put together! You read about them and grab the printables here!

It was so nice to have a productive week after a couple of crazy ones! Having a long weekend to look forward too was wonderful too! 
To spread some more love my TPT store is on Sale this weekend! Click on the picture to check it out!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching's Five for Friday! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

My district did a great job on the calendar this year! Halloween was a half day. And we had a half day and long weekend for Valentine's Day!
We had a great {SHORT} day celebrating! 

Candy Heart Graphing was a huge success! 

I have this as a growing freebie at my facebook page if you want to check it out! We did the M&M graphing earlier in the week. It was a great assessment for graphing. 

Since I was passing out candy in our graphing activities I went with non-candy items for valentine's gifts this year. These were not only perfect as Alex's valentines for his teachers and classmates, but it was perfect for my students and teammates! Alex loves glow sticks and I think I got enough for his class and mine for about $3! Buy extras because I accidentally broke quite a few! ;)

I found the ideas on pinterest, but made my own printables. I didn't want to have to open up the EOS lip balms so made a card that I could keep them in their original package... it seemed more clean that way! ;)

I was on for snack for Alex's class, so I made some ziploc bag toppers too!

You can find those printables here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2015 Focus: Strategy Groups

Just last week I wrote about some of the things I had learned about conferencing (or conferring, whatever you feel like calling it). Friday I started walking around to conference with some bookmarks in hand. It was fabulous. I think the past four days I have been conferencing I have been able to get to at least 4 students to chat. Something magical has happened with our independent reading time and the kids can sustain the reading atmosphere for almost 30 minutes. It is beautiful. just beautiful. Anyways, I have been passing out a lot of bookmarks. (get the freebie here) The kids love them. 
In the process of the last couple of weeks I have noticed some patterns developing in what kids are working on for their reading. 
I have a group that are still really working on using their reading strategies to decode those words. They are past the point of using one strategy but need to realize they are using all the strategies, almost all the time.
Another group is beginning to build that fluency in their reading, but they aren't always reading for meaning. They figure out the words, but don't really know what they just read.
The third group is at the taking off in their comprehension, so we are working at building that detail into a good retelling)

FINALLY, I have figured out where to go with our strategy groups! Basically, the kids are not grouped by level (though it is similar) but by the strategy we are focusing on. (ie. they all have the same bookmark! ;) ) 
My template for the lesson is pretty basic, and I will stick with the same theme for a couple of days. 
They are more to remind me where to go... you can get my template here.

Group one pulled out their decoding strategies bookmarks (you can find those here). They used their reading telephones with a book of their choice until I "radio" in to read with them. Throughout the time, they marked with counters what strategies they used. 

My "Click or Clunk" (reading for meaning) and retelling groups chose any book from their bag to read, and then we would stop every so often and do a quick check or retell and then get back to reading.

We usually did some sort of phonics/sight word warm up, but then got right to reading, and I told them I would continue checking in during independent reading time...
It was the first time in a long time that I have felt like we accomplished alot during our small group time. It felt more purposeful for the kids too because they were able to practice with books they already had, so we didn't spend too much time having to introduce a new guided reading book. Will I sometimes give all of them the same book and do a more "guided reading" lesson? Yes. Of Course. But these strategy groups allowed me to work more with some of the data I have been collecting during my conferences, and the instruction between that one-on-one conference and the small group time was so much more purposeful.
It feels so good to see some of these pieces come together. I look forward to figuring out how to use this during workshop more to truly have that time more differentiated according to their needs!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Elephant and Piggie

Seriously. Mo Willems is a genius. Two simple characters. Simple text. HUGE impact! 
The last couple weeks we have been all about Elephant and Piggie! It started when I got a bunch of Elephant and Piggie books and put them in our Read to Someone area. The kids would grab a couple books, picked a part, and started reading! It defintely revitalized the read to someone station!

After reading elephant and piggie books for about a week or two, I added some plain books (three sheets of paper stapled together) to the writing area and told the kids to write an elephant and piggie book (they couldn't have one with them at the table. We talked a little bit about speech and thought bubbles (I have a piggie anchor chart from earlier) and the kids got to work.

It's so amazing to see what they have started coming up with. The details they add. The new story ideas. The cuteness of their pictures...

You can tell they notice so much when they read. The many expressions. The simple speech bubbles. Seeing how they think of a story as they work on the cover.
One of my favorites as we have gotten started is this one below. The child came up to me with a title: Piggie Turned Brown.

First she drew the dirty piggie and wrote her sentence. Then she drew the elephant. I commented on how he looked mad. She said, "No, he is disappointed."
I about died. You had to hear her voice. The matter of factness. The "someone has used this phrase with me before" kind of tone.

In each child's book I think there is going to be an element of truth. Elephant and Piggie's adventures mirror the daily adventures of the kids. That's what made them so lovable in the first place.
I can't wait to add these stories to our library!

We have lots more to do with Elephant and Piggie, as well as many other Mo Willems' books! I will share more as we move a long in the month!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Freebie for Valentine's Day!

Thankfully we have a short week coming up! The kids have a half day on Thursday and no school Friday or Monday. I am looking forward to the break too! 
I was at Target today getting some stuff for Valentine's day and decided to pick up a couple bags of candy for some graphing activities. I got some tiny bags of candy hearts and m&ms. I know the kids are going to be a little excited about the short week and Valentine's Day so I am going to be a step ahead of them! ;) Doing anything with candy makes learning much more interesting! 

If you haven't already liked my facebook page head there now and grab my graphing freebie!

I have a couple graphing activities for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day!

I will be adding more throughout the year, so be sure to like my page to know where there will be updates! :)

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's week!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Five for Friday: Is it over yet?

This week will certainly be an unforgettable. Lots happened... that I will never forget.
But, thank goodness that Friday comes at the end of every week!

Here is what we have been up too this week!

Happy 100th day of school! We celebrated on Monday. 
My favorite part is always counting out our snack! I love how organized some kids are in making their 5 groups... and others just don't care. ;)

This weekend I worked on a new station for word study. We have only covered the Long A and E vowel teams, but I went ahead and made cards for every vowel team we will be covering! 

My kids have enjoyed using the Long A and E cards!

After a very interesting beginning of the week, my kids had an amazing Thursday!
We celebrate with our first "recess reward" an incentive time I pull out later in the year when things start to get a little crazy. Instead of waiting til Friday, I had to take advantage of the positives.
So I got some big pieces of paper and the kids had fun with chalk! 

When I conference with my kids I want to leave them with something to remind them of what we chatted about... So I made these reading comprehension bookmarks!
And they are FREE!!
You can read more about them here
or click on the picture to download them!

I don't often make it through a whole book with both of them on my lap, but I am glad that these two are around to keep me company! ;) Alex likes to read 4-5 books before bed (mostly to prolong bedtime!) but Liam still climbs up and down at least 5 million times throughout one book! He does love to come bring books to wherever I am sitting, but we normally only make it through a couple of pages before he loses interest. That is how Alex used to be, so I know it's only a matter of time before I get to have both of them on my lap for a whole book! :)

Happy Friday!
Don't forget to check out all the other interesting weeks at Doodle Bug Teaching's Five for Friday!