Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Starting Writing Workshop

This week we jumped into writer's workshop and it. was. beautiful! :)
Yesterday we started talking about ideas. Where do ideas come from? 

Roller Coaster was the perfect book to start us off. 

Most of them could relate to experiencing something for the first time and so after we read the book we did a quick write about something we had done for the first time. 

Then we spent some time brainstorming ideas on our heart map. The kids were pretty excited about that, and lots of their maps included their family, pets, toys and other things dear to their hearts! :) We discussed that our heart map carried some big ideas, but it was important to make them more clear and specific when we wrote about them. 

Today was the day we really jumped in. Instead of using a read aloud, I decided that we need to learn a little bit from other authors, so we watched a couple of author interviews to find out about other people's processes and where they get ideas.

We started with Jacqueline Woodson because we had read Each Kindness.

They noticed so many great points about her process. Writing different genres, ideas being everywhere, writing multiple things so we don't get bored....

Then we watched an interview with Oliver Jeffers (the kids were big fans of Stuck and the Great Paper Caper), a totally different approach to an interview, and they loved the humor, but again they picked up on lots of great points about what authors do.

He was very clear about his process for writing too and that lead beautifully into our talk about what writer's workshop would look like in our room. There were some gasps when I told them I didn't want them to erase, but cross out mistakes so we could talk about their thought process. Their eyes glimmered when I told them they could write about whatever they wanted, using whatever materials they wanted, including a variety of papers. Heads nodded when I said we could talk about what we were writing, but other conversations should be kept to a minimum.

Then I told them that we would take turns letting boys and girls spread out using clipboards!
(oh the glee!)

So first they had to all choose their varieties of paper. Some decided to write in their notebooks, others stapled notebook paper together (to make chapter books) and still others still used my blank books stapled together.

Then they settled in around the room and started writing.

I could not believe how quiet it was!

Were there pockets of whispering?

Did kids keep coming over to talk to me.
Yes. (something to address next week)

But I got to hear kids read so many beautiful stories to me, each one as unique as they are! Everything from fantasy to true stories (with maybe a just a few elaborations).

I'm more than a little excited for where writer's workshop is going to go this year. It has always been a struggle for me, but it's amazing what you can do when you have an hour designated to it! This is a group that loves to write and I think we will learn lots this year!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Five For Friday: Back to School!

This was a busy week for us! The boys and I finally had our first days of school. Here is what this week looked like.

The start of the week was all about planning for the first month or so of school. Because we are only in school two days a week, I am trying to plan out the entire unit at once, and then break down the lessons. It give me a good idea of where we are headed. You can read more about my planning {here}

Back to school wouldn't be complete without treats for the teachers! :) I made banana bread and then was trying to figure out what to put on a tag... This seemed pretty fitting! ;) I may or may not have passed some out to some of my coworkers as well! ;)

Our first day was on Tuesday! Both boys went in very excited to their classes! Alex is in 4k this year! We actually will have some homework to keep up with! ;) Liam is more in a nursery setting, but I think he will keep plenty busy in there too! I had my 8th first day of school, but my first one in 3rd grade. :)

Our two days at school were wonderful! I enjoyed getting to know the sweet kids in my class. You can read lots more about our back to school adventures {here}

Back to School is never complete without some team building time! The Marshmallow Challenge is always a great way to build those skills, but you can go to the collaboration posts (or click here) for lots of great ways to encourage teamwork during the first weeks of school! I think it is important to get to know the kids, but then its also even more important to help them to learn how to work together and problem solve even in the middle of challenges!

That is a peek at our week! Hope everyone who headed back to school this week is having a great week!
Be sure to hop on over to Kacey's Five for Friday link up to see what others are up to as well! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First Days of School

I seriously love my job!! Especially since my week is already over! ;) I got to meet some of the sweetest kiddos this week and we had a lot of fun getting to know each other!

Here are a couple of things that we started on this week...

Making Books

Definitely my favorite way to start writing. A blank stapled book.  I had books sitting at their seats when they came in and told them to write about something they did this summer. I learned lots about them as writers. The different responses to the task is always precious and the look in their eyes as their ideas start forming is WONDERFUL! I can't wait to jump into our writer's workshop next week. 

Who Am I as a Reader/Writer

I made these sheets specifically for the first days of school. It was a helpful way to get to the kiddos--their interests in reading, what they like to write, what kind of read alouds will hold their attention the best, what genres they know.

I had several of the following response...

It makes perfect sense! :)

Marshmallow Challenge

I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this, but was so glad I decided too! Any opportunity to see kids have to collaborate and work together is great! I did this last year, but waited until we had been in school a week or two. We had the best discussion afterwards about teamwork and I loved watching how hard the kids worked and that they persevered through the task!

They all agreed that the task was difficult, especially because they didn't always get to use their idea, they had to think about other people's ideas too. If you want more info about the marshmallow challenge go {here}.


We call our interactive notebooks iBooks here. I told the kids they were getting iBooks and they got all excited...and then I told them to pull out the black notebook in their backpacks... ;) We got started on our Literature iBook as we started talking about characters. 

I really do like using them to help us keep up with our notes and learning! Tuesday we read a couple chapters of Because of Winn Dixie and then talked about the characters while we worked on the pages. On Wednesday we continued to talk about characters in our different read alouds and it was good to keep the connection going! I'm still in the process of finishing the first unit, but once it is done I will be adding it to my TPT store! :)

Read Alouds

Here's a peek at the read alouds we used this week to celebrate being Back and School and to brainstorm before writing our Essential Agreements. 

Always a fun one!

Just because they need to get to know my favorite author! ;)

I haven't used this book before, but it is a Beautiful story and the kids really thought through how we should treat others.

It's not back to school time unless we read this one! :)

Of course, back to school days would not be complete unless I find out what the kids want to learn about this year! :) It's a great way to get them used to my quick check/exit slip system too! :)
There's a snapshot of our back to school fun! Next week we dive deeper into characters and setting and we will get started with Writer's Workshop!

Hope your back to school was fabulous too!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Planning for 3rd grade!

This past week has been a busy one! Thanks to the teacher meetings and spending more time with my coworkers, I am starting to feel more ready for everything. Having people answer your 100 million questions is always great! ;)

I've kept busy with planning too! I'm finally making some headway in what I will do with Literature and Writing. :)


I finally figured out the units of study I want to accomplish with each novel we read. Each unit is a question and I broke down some of the elements I want to cover in each unit. 

It is not all inclusive because I only have 2 mornings a week with them, nor I am finished with my list, but I feel much better knowing where I am going. I'm also going to split up some of those units over two books... AND, I've started working on my Interactive Notebook pages! We use interactive notebooks to help scaffold their learning as they apply it at home as well.

I'm excited for how the first pages have come out!

 We will use our novel for the examples in our interactive notebooks (or iBooks as we call them! :) ) but use these pages for our notes. I left the pages pretty basic, because we are going to build off our class discussions and ideas a lot. 
Our first unit is What Makes a Story a Story? We will cover the story elements in this first unit... I'm still in the process of finishing that up! 
I'm also loving Reading in the Wild! It has been helpful in thinking through reading in the upper grades!


I have more of a framework to follow for writing, but was struggling to figure out how to bring all my ideas together (6-traits, genre writing, setting up workshop etc). I was looking through some resource ideas that a friend shared with me, and discovered this helpful book:  
I love how it walks you through all the ideas of what you want/need to teach and then to think about how to bring it all together.
I had fun on pinterest and at the library choosing some books I wanted to use as mentor texts to teach about ideas!

Another book i want to read again is Mentor Texts. I read some of it several years ago, but I think this will be a helpful resource too!

I will share all of our back to school plans after I finish them on Wednesday! I am repeating some ideas from last year so if you check out the collaboration label at the side you will get a preview. ;) 

Oh, and don't forget that TPT is having an SPECIAL back to school sale on Wednesday! Just in time to pick up all the things you need to have a great start to the school year! :)

Hope you all have a great first day of school! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to School Tired!

First day back to school... Well, teacher meetings that is! ;)

My boys had a load of fun while I sat through some training and got to know the other ladies who will be working at Arrows this year! Today made me so much more excited for this year. 
Next Tuesday I meet the kids! :) Can't wait! 
When do you start school? 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Five For Friday: Hello August!

I can't believe we are already in August! Will is at school doing all the back to school meetings and the boys and I have been keeping busy at home! 

This child. He is a mischievous one! I can't keep my eyes off of him for too long or he has spilled, climbed, eaten, but mostly just destroyed something. I love listening to him talk though, his language explosion is amazing. 

And then there's this one, who won't ever look at the camera! ;) We had a fun day at the library reading construction stories and making dump trucks out of egg cartons! His quest for learning makes me so happy and I love seeing all the the new things he loves to share with us on a daily basis!

As I get to know my kids this year I want to know who they think they are as readers and writers. I added this to my TPT store earlier this week! 

I took the boys to the zoo this week! We went early enough in the day I decided we could feed the birds because they hopefully wouldn't be overfed yet! They certainly don't jump at the chance to eat as much as they did a couple of years ago, but Liam loved the experience!

We often host international students during school breaks, but this year we hosted two students before they went into their resident houses. One was with us for about a week and the other just a couple of days. We love getting to know more about them and their culture!  One of them had this cup and I found it quite hilarious. :) It reminds me of stuff that we see in Japan too. We have lots of fun snacks to try and I have some black and green tea to test out as well! It was really sweet of them to bring treats for us! 

I've been getting questions about what I am doing next year! :) It is definitely unique! I have written a couple different posts about what my year in third grade will look like... you can check them out {here} or click on the picture to read my lastest post about it!

Well that sums up my week! Next week I have three days of teacher meetings so I'm definitely going to be getting into back to school mode!
Be sure to check out what other teachers are up to at Kacey's Five for Friday!