Friday, April 26, 2013

We are back in action!

Sorry about our absence lately, but we've been SUPER busy at school. Although our state tests were completed in March, April is one of our busiest months. We do not get out of school until June 20th this year, but it's okay because we have SO much still to do.

In April we complete our whole Unit 5 in Language Arts "How are the Earth & Sky portrayed in fiction and nonfiction?", take three MAP tests on computers (Reading, Language, and Math), a Spring Writing Prompt, DRP, DRA to the student's independent reading level, fluency with a Spring goal, DSA spelling tests (which could possibly lead to taking three tests depending on the student), have a week off for Spring Break, attend a school day chorus, band, and orchestra concert, AND hold parents/teacher conferences. WHEW! That was exhausting just typing!!!

Anyways, in linking up with Doodle Bugs are five RANDOM parts of our week!

5) We finished our legend chart in class and the students created their own legends. We are so impressed with how they came out! We made up an awesome packet for our unit and added it to our TPT store. The legend plan we created was key to the student's success!

4) We started our bulletin board to introduce our next unit. "How is heroism portrayed in fiction and nonfiction?" I'm in love with the comic superhero I drew and the student's are having a blast cutting their heads out of their pictures!

3) I stayed up really late Thursday night making cake pops for Robyn's daughter's second birthday this weekend. I love making them and think they came out awesome! :) 

2) I made an DELICIOUS dinner this week in my Deep Covered Baker from Pampered Chef that I am obsessed with. Not only can I make an amazing lava cake in twelve minutes, but I can also cook ANYTHING in it in the MICROWAVE!!! From whole chickens to dips...everything I've made was awesome. Really this is something you have to see to believe. I didn't believe microwaved chicken would be edible until I tried it. It makes quick dinners more healthy and less stressful. 

This dish was called Summer Spaghetti. I can't wait for the summer when my garden is thriving so I can add fresh zucchini and squash! 

1) I was diagnosed with a form of Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis! :( It is an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of a tick. I have no idea when I got bit by a tick, but I did, and now I have full blown symptoms. My neck, back, and shoulders feel like they are broken and the migraines I get are the worst I've ever had. NOT fun... I have 0 energy and the super strong medicine I am on makes me sick! Below is a picture of what the tick supposedly looks like. EWWWW! With my husband being a hunter and us always being outside hiking in the woods, I guess it makes sense that it had to happen sometime!

 If you made it this far....THANK YOU! :) I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Drum rolllllllll please! And the winnnnnnnner is.....





Tara Witte! From Teaching with Twitte! I will be emailing our sponsors your email address and then you get to go on a TPT shopping spree!

Thank you everyone for participating and a SPECIAL thank you to our blog giveaway sponsors! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Getting Acquainted with Pinkadots!

I love these fun linky parties to get to know more of my blog friends. Since Pinkadots Elementary is a two teacher team, normally when you see posts they are from me, Theresa. We are both 4th grade teachers in the same school, plan together, teach together, go out together, our kids are BFF's & go to daycare together, and we talk 24/7. So it is only right that I am making Robyn get on board with blogging. She is seriously my other half and I don't know how I survived all those years without her. We are so much alike at certain things, but SO completely opposite at the same time. We met at school (when she was the evil, cute, new, younger (only by a year) teacher that moved in and kicked me out of my classroom, but that's a different story!) It is my Summer goal....make Robyn a tech nerd like myself! She already thinks I'm nuts with these blog linky parties and giveaways and posts, but secretly I know she loves it! ;) Maybe you will all get really lucky and we will take a picture from our SPA DAY tomorrow and post it so you can see who we really are! Anyways I/WE are linking up with our friend LaToya from Flying into First Grade

This week the topic is a Skittles Party & since I have a CRAZY obsession with skittles, how could I resist the post!?

Here is the code:
Red- Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
Orange- Favorite Memory from College
Yellow- Favorite Sports Team
Green- Favorite Fast Food Place
Purple- Wild Card(Tell anything about yourself)

Thanks for reading about us! Be sure to check out the post below to join in on our 100 follower giveaway! Be sure to check out my freebie for today as well! :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

FREEBIE & Ta Daaaa! We made it to 100 and have 15 fabulous prizes to raffle off!

First of all, I would like to thank our AMAZING 100 followers! I also would like to thank the awesome teachers who donated products to help us celebrate our giveaway! Please check out their blogs and if you don't follow them already, get on that! I've come to love blogging more than I ever thought was possible. I've made wonderful friendships with my bloggy friends and I've grown as an educator. It really is a win/win situation! 

Without further adieu...

Up for grabs are (15)!!! Yes, FIFTEEN fun, creative, and FREE products for one lucky winner. 
Fill out the entry form below! 
You can't win, if you don't play! ;)

ALSO...Who could forget....MANIC MONDAY! Although I am finally on Spring Break, it is still a MANIC Monday because I am off to the doctors before heading to the Aquarium with Robyn and our kids. Leave it to me to get sick on vacation. ALL of our kids are on antibiotics for sinus/ear infections and pink eye, and I think I might have an ear infection too. Boo! 

Oh well...I couldn't let the week go by without showing and sharing these adorable QR Code Reader I-Pod/I-Phones. I made the clip art and turned it into a punctuation hunt!

I printed, laminated, and hung the seven posters throughout my room, had the students answer the questions on their own, and then go around the room and self correct with the QR scanner. They had a blast.

Click here for a linky of fun QR code ideas! 

This would be great for an interactive bulletin board or even as a center!

Please let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your comments! 

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We made it to 100!!

*Insert me jumping up and down here!" We made it to 100 followers!! Yahoo!!! If you missed my Monday post below and would like to help us celebrate our first milestone of 100 followers, consider donating to our giveaway below! Simply fill out the form and I will add you to the list! I will get the giveaway ready this weekend and it will go up on Monday! :)

Thank you to all of my blogger friends who have signed up already! It means so much to us to be a part of such amazing and supportive online community of teachers! We love sharing our ideas and learning from each and every one of you! We are looking forward to many more milestones and much more fun to be shared and celebrated with you all! :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Legend of the Blue Bonnet, Stories of the Earth & Sky, & Tried it Tuesday!

Continuing on into our 5th unit this year, we are learning about How the Earth & Sky are portrayed in fiction and nonfiction. Like I've mentioned before, this is a brand new curriculum for us and each month two out of our five 4th grade Reading/LA teachers get together with the Reading Specialist & Head of the Reading Department to write the actual curriculum. We are allowed a substitute for one day and there is a ton of work that needs to be done. Usually the next unit starts right away and we have to rush to share it with our colleagues. It was difficult this year because not only did we lack the storybooks and resources we needed, but we also lacked activities and assessments. We spent a lot of time searching the Internet and creating our own resources so hopefully next year will be easier. I was lucky enough to take part in writing Unit 5 & Unit 6.


Sooooo.... getting back to my post. Today I wanted to link up with Tried it Tuesday, because technically everyday is a new adventure in my room. It is a new lesson I have not tried or tested out before. Today I read The Legend of the Blue Bonnet by Tommy dePaola for the first time with my students. 

I started off by introducing the new vocabulary words to my class and gave six students (because there were six words) a chance to find out some meanings on the I-Pads. We try to incorporate research skills into our lessons any chance we get. Our students have improved on their skills TREMENDOUSLY since the beginning of the year! 

Next, I read the story and we discussed, as a class and in partners, parts of the text as we went through it. The book made so much more sense to the students since they were front loaded with the vocabulary. It allowed for a deeper understanding of the text, which was shown when discussing why the girl's name changed in the story. One student mentioned, "She is no longer She-Who-Is-Not-Alone because she is no longer "alone." She now has a place in her tribe and has proven herself a worthy tribe member, by making such a sacrifice." This was an awesome answer and I was thrilled.

We then added on to our class chart. 

The students then summarized the story on their own in their Reading Notebooks. They need help on summarizing, so we are focusing on it a lot in this unit. When they were finished, they started a worksheet to create their own Native American Name. A few days prior, Robyn and I, created a worksheet for the students to form their own Native American name based on their interests, achievements, character traits, but had to incorporate the Earth & nature (because we are trying to put a focus on them with this unit). Then they had to justify their name with specific examples from their life. We encouraged the students to use figurative language and to really put thought and effort into their name so it meant something, like She-Who-is-Alone, in The Legend of the Blue Bonnet.
You'll be excited to hear that my name, created by the class, is:
 She-Who-Is-As Sweet-As-Spring-Rain
Cute, hmm? ;)

When they were finished, we created name tags and wore them on our shirts. 
Students then walked around the classroom introducing themselves using their new name. They also had to explain how their name fit their life. They had so much fun doing this! They even used Native American voices! It was hysterical! As a class, we then sat down and students introduced each other.  This was great because it held students accountable for actively listening during their conversation with a classmate. They not only shared their name, but the reason behind their name too. 

At the end of the day, I had them stick them onto the chart so I could take a picture. It cracks me up at the names they came up with. One of my favorite's (it is in yellow so it's hard to read) is He-Who-Talks-Up-A-Storm.

Overall, I had fun teaching today and the students had a blast. We are getting ready to write our own legends when we come back from Spring Break.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Manic Monday & Getting ready to celebrate!!!

Do you see that? Over there...on the right??? Those are all my blog friends, are you one of them? Since we started this blog in January, we never thought we would reach 100 followers. Now that we are almost there, we are SUPER excited and want to create a SPECTACULAR giveaway for you!

If you would like to help us celebrate, please fill out the little form below. I will get back to your by Saturday (4/13)- (as long as I can figure out how to find the results!) Thank you SO much for helping us out and THANK YOU to all of our followers!

By the way...Happy Monday! Last week was Theresa's birthday and this week it is Robyn's birthday! Big birthday month here at Pinkadots! :)

I am SO excited to share my "lovely" Earth Day trees with you. I absolutely love how these heart trees came out. Included in the freebie are 4 PNG graphics. I made them in color, black & white, with words, and without. They will look great on any papers and can even be used as a coloring template.

If you love it as much as I do, please leave me some feedback and let me know! :) I'd love to see what you use it on!

Have a wonderful MANIC MONDAY! We just have to get through conferences this week and then SPRING BREAK is next week! It's SOOOOOO close, yet SOOOOO far away.... :)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Oh yeah, we almost forgot our friend, Latoya, at Flying into First Grade!

Topic - Stranded on an Island-What three things would you have to have with you?

#1. My laptop (with unlimited Internet and battery).
#2. Sunglasses (I have blue eyes that are very sensitive to sun).
#3. My husband (he can hunt, fish, cook, and protect me....awwww).

#1. Chapstick (I would DIE without it, I am pretty addicted.)
#2. A bikini ;)
#3. My husband, Rich, & daughter, Kylie (I'd be lost without them!!)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday = Funday, Mentor Text Linky: Twilight Comes Twice!

What image do you have when you think of twilight? Dusk, dawn? Both? This book uses free-verse poetry to capture the inexplicable essence of these two special times of day.

Since I only teacher Reading/Writing/LA I do a lot of reading. I consider myself a book-aholic.  My students love listening to read alouds on our reading rug. One of my colleagues loves reading books even more than me. I think she knows every book ever written and can tell you the title and a summary when asked. Her thirty plus year of teaching sure help this matter. When our PLC decided to focus on word choice this year, the colleague introduced us to Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher. Not only is the imagery amazing, but there is other figurative language used throughout the book as well.  A few years ago, Mr. Fletcher came to our school to speak to the students about how he got started as a writer. It was an inspiring presentation to the teachers as well as the students.

Earlier this year I came across a phenomenal demo reading of Twilight Comes Twice. The reader's voice and tone is perfect, and I love the sound effects in the background as the gentleman reads. As much as I love reading this book and stopping to look at the beautiful illustrations, I think this video does the job just as good as me.  So if you don't have the book, the video would be great to show your class!

You can watch it below. 

While reading this book, we focused on word choice & figurative language. The words used are descriptive and colorful. It is a great mentor text to lead into writer's workshop.  The colleague, I mentioned above, does a great activity after reading the book. She took old calendars featuring landscapes and laminated the pictures. She gave a picture out to each student and the students wrote descriptive passages mimicking the amazing word choice Mr. Fletcher used in his book Twilight Comes Twice.  She featured the pictures with the corresponding descriptive passages on the hallway bulletin board and they are fantastic. We are always impressed when we see the changes in student writing just from reading and discussing a text. Give this book a try, I guarantee you and your students will love it! :)

Thanks for the linky today Amanda & Stacia! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Five for Friday (Saturday), Pretty Frame, Riding Freedom Novel Games, Revolutionary Summative and more!

Today (Saturday) I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday post (better late than never, right!) We had such a productive week and wanted to share it with our blog friends.

#1. This week started off on Monday with the students earning time to play their Riding Freedom board games. At first I was a little iffy letting the students have so much freedom in creating a their own game, but after seeing groups work together, my thoughts have changed. This was SUCH a great assignment. It revolved around the class core novel we just finished, Riding Freedom, team work, and creativity. I was so impressed with the games, the kids begged to do this again. Here are some pictures of the different game boards being put to use on Monday. 

If you are interested in more information about this novel or activity, check out our Riding Freedom packet on TPT. It is jam packed with activities and questions linked to the CCSS! The students absolutely LOVED this book and connected to it on so many levels!

#2. We also finished up our Revolutionary Unit with the students writing about who the most inspirational Revolutionary was to them and why. The assessment showed some thoughtful and clear writing!

#3. Robyn made her pretty frame for the Art Show Raffle. I showed off my birdhouse last week, well this is her beautiful frame. She seriously is one of the most crafty people I've ever met! :)

#4. We started our 5th Unit in LA on Native American Legends, Myths, and Lores. Robyn and I planned out the unit and I am excited to see it fall into place over the next few weeks! This is the chart our class will be adding to this month. The first book we read was great, since I've never read any of the books we've chose, I am excited for this unit. Our students will be creating their own Native American names after we research what makes the names special and then will be writing their own legends. (Sorry the writing is so small, I had a lot of information to fit on there! :) )

 #5. How the Stars Fell into the Sky. Our first Navajo Legend. This retelling of a Navajo folktale explains how First Woman tried to write the laws of the land using stars in the sky, only to be thwarted by the trickster Coyote. It was very interesting and left the kids with a ton of questions to research. This led us to a great discussion on laws and the students filled out the worksheet below in the notebooks before sharing their ideas. 


Thanks for hosting Doodle Bugs Teaching! :)

Pass the Torch!

Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!


Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

When I found out about this linky party I was very excited to try it out. I wasn't planning on teaching this particular topic to my 46 4th graders, but figured, what the heck, it can't hurt.  After reading through the directions, I decided to make some changes to fit my students. I don't have too much extra time with our new curriculum, so if I wanted to give this a try I could only devote 10 minutes a day to it. I decided to start with a pretest. I chose to use the same matching test the students would be taking at the end of the week because it was short, to the point, and clear. I found it difficult when correcting because two words had the same meaning so I had to go back and change some student's grades. Unfortunately when I gave it to my students, only 4/46 students received a 60% or better! I wish I was making that up, but sadly I am not. To make it worse, we just finished the state tests. Now any confidence I HAD about our classroom scores are now SQUASHED. They were just as shocked because they thought since the test was so short, it was simple. I told them we were lucky because we could only go UP from here. 

That day I started this program right from the beginning by introducing the Nike Raps. The students thought these were hilarious. We read/sang the raps for each of the ten words. This was fun for the students and a great activity especially after sitting for a standardized test for so long.  Students partnered up and practiced a rap to preform for the class. We even found out some students had a hidden talent of beat-boxing! 

After some laughs, I modeled how I wanted the students to "diagram" each word. I called it "diagramming" for lack of a better word.  We started with "a" and tried to brainstorm a list of words with the prefix. We could only think of "atypical" and discussed both words...typical and atypical. We also discussed how and why the prefix a changed the word. We continued to fill out the chart together before I allowed the students to go to their seats and copy it. Next, they were able to find a partner and complete "anti" on the same page. They thought it was fun to work in partnerships and even got competitive with other groups as to who could think of the most words for the word list section of the chart. I encouraged my students to use a dictionary for help to come up with some more words to add to the word list in the diagram. We continued working this way for the whole week, focusing on two words per day.

Below are some pictures from the week. 
(Please don't judge me on my horrible drawing of a "hairless" cat.)

By the end of the week, the kids were ready for their quiz. I was excited to see the words we have been discussing throughout the week being used in class. We are just finishing up with our Revolutionaries Unit and one of my students pointed out that, "Sojourner Truth was anti-slavery." The other popular word in class right now is antidisestablishmentarian.  One of my silly students found it in the dictionary and they keep trying to throw it into daily coversations to sound smart.  Oh the joys of teaching 4th grade...

When it came time to correct the post tests I was SUPER excited to see that out of my 46 students 32 received a 80% or better and 40 received a passing score of at least 60%!

Overall, I am happy that I took the time to teach this to my students. It really doesn't take more than a few minutes a day and if my students retain this knowledge it will be worth it. I do wish there were more activities incorporated into the lessons because the worksheets devoted to each new word seemed redundant by the end of the week. I did not print out the flash cards because we are trying to conserve paper in my school and we did not use the necklaces because like I said, we lacked time. But I am proud to show off their notebooks at parent/teacher conferences next week.

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal

  Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program
            $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
            50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

   Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
              40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

    Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
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Grade 1 & 2

Grade 3 & 4

Grade 5 & 6