Thursday, February 28, 2013

Win a Superhero Writing Poster set!

Who likes to win free stuff???? I know I do! GREAT news, our friends at Mackey's Classroom are having an awesome giveaway! There are a TON of teachers (including yours truely) linked up to give one of their favorite TPT products away! You can start entering on March 3rd, so check out the amazing prizes!

I am offering up my new Super Hero Themed: Super Writer Posters. I am absolutely, head over heals, in LOVE with them. My students love them and I often find my students reading the posters over and over because they are so bright, colorful, and just plain cute! The set includes student friendly posters written in “I will…” statements to put ownership of the task on the student.

There are 15 posters included in this SUPER HERO set!

Posters include: proof read, sentence variety, set a tone, show and not tell, vivid verbs, consistent details, sequence, descriptive details, word choice, clarity, beginning, ending, overused words, and revising.

Seriously, are these not the cutest posters ever!?

If you can't wait and HAVE to have the posters, you can check out our TPT store!
Happy (ALMOST) Friday! I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Taking a stance: Opinion writing for a debate!

Wohoo! It's finally Friday! We had a full week this week since our President's Day break was taken back due to Hurricane Sandy in the beginning of the year and our classes continued studying "Revolutionaries of the Past".

I am spending my Friday night getting plans ready for next week's big debate! In honor of this, I thought I'd write out some teacher tips for anyone considering holding a debate in their class. I actually have a principal observation next week and will be holding a class debate. I created an awesome packet about opinion writing for a debate (complete with 30 student friendly debate topics, teacher and student tips, & step guided instructions for students) and am so excited to use it for the observation. 

Prepping For a Debate: Teacher tips to help!

#1 Debate? Why debate? Debates are great for so many reasons. Besides being completely aligned to the CCSS, debates cover a ton of skills.  The students have the opportunity to research a topic, take notes, and understand the information enough to take a stance. They then have to use the evidence from their research to back up their opinion. When they are comfortable with this they have to be accountable for their research and stance and verbally address the situation with peers. Getting students to use grade appropriate academic language collaborate in discussion, and talk passionately about a debatable topic is awesome and so rewarding as a teacher. These are skills that will be useful to them for the rest of their lives. 

#2 Establish rules- Be sure to be consistent with the rules. What you do for one side has to be the same for the other side. For example, you could have one side present their debate. Then let the other side present their debate. Then finish with some rebuttals. You could also have one person on one side present a point, and then let one person on the other side present a point. Then go back and forth between the teams. I find that having students write their key points on an index card before the debate allows for 100% participation, even if students end up piggybacking off a similar idea.

#3 Use a timer! One thing you'll want to make sure you have set  is a time limit. That could mean each team gets a certain amount of time to present their points before it's the other team's turn or it could mean the whole debate is going to last a certain amount of time. When that time is up, the debate is over no matter how much more people have to say.

#4 Conversation: You may also have to establish rules about people not interrupting each other and about how you decide who is the next person to talk, whether each person on the team gets a chance or the person who raises their hand gets the next opportunity. Be sure to have the students write down the facts they wish to discuss on an index card and talk with their “group” before the debate. Some students may wish to “piggyback” off of each other’s ideas to get their points across.

#5 Topics: Allow students to pick topics- Yes, you'll have to establish boundaries on this one, and the boundaries might depend upon the students' age and interests. Check out the thirty ideas in the previous page to get your class started. If the students are interested in the topic, they are more likely to participate in the debate. If it's something none of them (or few of them) care about, you're probably not going to get much class participation.

#6 Have fun! Let the students talk! If it doesn’t work perfectly the first time, don’t give up! Try again! 

Taking a Stance/ Opinion Writing for a Debate!

If this sounds like something you'd like to try definitely check out my packet on TPT! You won't be disappointed! 

Enjoy your weekend, teacher friends! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"What do I do now????"

Does this sound familiar? Besides my answer, which 99% of the time is to go back and check your answers, add more description, or check your spelling (depending on the assignment) it is usually read your just right book. For my students who do an awesome job the first time and crave something other than reading, I created this writing menu of choice.  I used our school poster maker and enlarged it so the kids can see it from where ever they sit. When students finish their assignment and I check off on their work, they know they have the option of reading or taking out their writing journal and picking a topic. This alleviates me from hearing the dreaded and repeated..."What do I do now!???" The ideas I included in the menu are fun for anyone and the same choice can be written multiple times with different ideas. I find it important to leave a few minutes at the end of the class every other day or so for students to share their work. This allows the students to hear what other classmates have written and give feedback to one another. Not only do the students enjoy this idea, but on my recent principal observation, the principal was very impressed with the students leading themselves to completing more work without wasting any time, after their assigned assignment was complete. It has helped with their writing stamina and I've notice whatever writing strategies we are working on in class, appear in their writing journals. I couldn't be happier to see my students making the connection on their own.

If this sounds like something you'd like for your classroom, I just added it to my TPT store for FREE!  Just please, please, please, leave me feedback and let me know how you use it and how your students like it!

Have a great week! Feel free to comment below and leave us some love! :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reward Coupons

Prize boxes always drove me CRAZY! I hated spending a ton of money on silly things that would loose its value in no time. I have to admit, I had a prize box for years even though I hated it. I want to reward my students, but didn’t know any other way of doing it. This year I got rid of the dreaded prize box and I’m so glad I did! It annoyed me that once a student would get a prize, they would enjoy it for a second and the excitement would fade.  I wanted to use something that kept my students motivated to keep working hard and continue to make smart choices.

After spending a lot of time thinking of ways I could replace the dreaded prize box, I decided to create Reward Coupons. I wanted something that was meaningful and would motivate everyone.  I created 60 coupons, it took me FOREVER to come up with 60, but I wanted to have a variety to pick and choose from.  I’ve been using these coupons since September and it has been amazing! I’ve never had a class that has worked so hard academically and behaviorally.  
Students receive their coupon for a variety of things, taking a risk in class, doing the right thing when others are not, never missing homework, improving a test grade, the opportunities to receive one are endless! Due to the variety of Reward Coupons I am always able to find the perfect coupon to praise my students. It’s hysterical to see how excited a student gets when I tell them they earned a reward coupon! The best part about the coupons is that I don’t have to buy a thing!! I also love these coupons because other students see the privileges you get when you work hard and make smart choices.
Here are a few examples of my coupons:

Love these! :)
 Check out the whole set at my TPT Store

 I also have a “Star Card." When students get 20 hole punches (I actually have a hole punch in the shape of a star) they get to pick a reward coupon.  Each student gets their own card and I give out hole punches for a variety of things, some examples are, quietest table, most creative, best word choice, basically anything! I also use this to teach responsibility, my students are in 4th grade and it’s important for them to be responsible. If they lose their card, I will always give them a new one, but they do not get the hole punches they earned back, they have to start over. It’s disappointing to the student, but it teaches them a life skill. They learn a great lesson and after they lose one card, they make sure to never lose it again! Here is a picture of the “Star Card” I use in my class: 

   You can find it for FREE at my TPT Store

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Centers in upper elementary?

Do you use centers in your classroom? How do they work? When I worked as a student teacher, in a first grade classroom, we had parent volunteers help out, a few times a week, so there was supervision and assistance at every center. It worked out quite nice since the whole first grade team did the same centers and my job was to copy and fill the centers for ALL the teachers each week.

Now that we teach fourth we were playing with the idea of incorporating centers. One reason is that the CCSS stresses group work and collaboration. I feel in order for this to happen students need to LEARN how to work together and communicate appropriately. They need to learn to take responsibility for their actions and thinking and not just be a bystander in their education. Ms. G and I have very similar classes and beliefs. We have both been using collaboration rubrics to teach students how to act in groups. It has definitely helped students know what they are being held responsible for.

We wanted to start with fluency centers a few times a week for just 10-15 minutes. I saw another blog post that really inspired me. The trick is we wanted low maintenance centers that didn't require a ton of copying or correcting on our part each week. We wanted the students to enjoy themselves and be able to manage each center themselves. So far for centers, we have a Fry Fluency Game (called "I'm Fluent and I Know it!") using the first 100 Fry Phrases, a Cloze reading center (w/ teacher support), fluency poems for partners, a really fun writing center (stay tuned for a post on this), and a digital listening station (I was lucky enough to receive from a Donors Choose grant!).  Since our class make ups both have intervention students receiving Tier Three support as well as push in support three times a week for other students, we really feel this will be helpful to all of our students. We plan on testing this out this week.

Any tips, tricks, or ideas for centers in your classroom would be GREATLY appreciated!! We will take pictures of the centers in use this week and post later on!

Throwing a sale!

Nothing much is better than shopping when things are on sale! In honor of the Super Bowl today, we are joining the Teachers Pay Teachers sale! Check out our store for additional savings today only. TPT is also taking an additional 10% off with the promo code SUPER today only! That's a savings of 20%!! The most expensive product is under five dollars! Great deal!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Anyone need to update a bulletin board?

I made this adorable Jackie Robinson/Baseball themed bulletin board earlier in the year and loved the way it came out! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it for my TPT store. I'm offering this bulletin board set up for grabs for FREE to two lucky blog followers. The only thing I ask is that you take some pictures for me upload to my TPT store!

This bulletin board is perfect for February for Black History Month. It would also be great for a sports themed classroom, anyone working on journal entry open ended responses, and is aligned with the CCSS.

It would be excellent for grades 2-6. Included are the baseball letters spelling out "A Day in the Life..." and two answer frames ( a sentence starter response frame or just a plain lined frame)

Comment below with your email if you'd like to steal this set!! I'll hook up the first two responses! :)

The only picture I had from the beginning of the year :(