Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Festivities...I've been BOOED!

Are you able to celebrate Halloween in your school? Today I am linking up with one of my blog buddies, Gary, aka ScrappyGuy, for his linky on celebrating Halloween in school. We have an awesome PTO at my school and they just held an after school pumpkin painting party for the students. There was a huge turn out. They also bought pumpkins for the teachers to "decorate" for a school wide contest. The pumpkins were due back to school on Monday and there was some serious competition! 

This a adorable minion came out to be the winner! The students all voted this afternoon and the winning teacher's class gets a prize.

This is Robyn's white painted witch pumpkin!

So creative!

These were my favorite!!! How awesome are these m&m pumpkins!?

This was my attempt! I will say it looks much better at night all lit up! It took me forever to carve this thing too! At least my students were proud of me!

See much better looking when it's lit up!

Some other fun pumpkins! 

We have a very creative teacher staff! Can't wait to see what the prize turns out to be!

Thursday we are having small Halloween parties in classrooms with treats and spooky parent read books. We are also doing some fun curriculum related Halloween activities and the students will be allowed to put on their costumes at the end of the day! A ton of the teachers are dressing up together! Stay tuned for pictures, I can't wait!

I totally borrowed this idea from my BBB Joanne and I am THRILLED with the results! 

My NEW favorite bulletin board!! The students wrote from the perspective of a spider begging not to be crushed! Their writing was adorable and impressive! 

Take care teacher friends! 
The temp is dropping down to the low 30's tonight here in CT! Brrrr!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Freebie: Opinion Writing, SPIDERS, and a FLY....OH MY!

While working our way through opinion writing I've came across some great ideas from my fellow BBBs. One of my favorite ideas came from Jivey, who also got inspired from Joanne. Both of these ladies are amazing. Last week I started an opinion essay on the topic, "What state would be the best to live in?" The students were able to use our new class set of Chrome books for research for one day. Unfortunately, that was not nearly enough time to research, but we had no choice because the Chrome books were taken away for NWEA testing. I was inspired by the season, the blogs mentioned above, and this awesome book, The Spider and the Fly! Have you ever read it? It is perfect for the fall, creepy enough for Halloween, and amazing from the literary perspective. The word choice is fabulous and the illustrations are creative and captivating! It is the perfect length for a quick read aloud that inspires the students to want to know more. This led us to our next opinion piece (Idea totally borrowed from Jivey) Are spiders harmful or helpful? Right off my class took a vote and I was NOT shocked to see that all but one student felt that spiders were more harmful than helpful. After finding some nonfiction text for my students to read, creating a way for the students to organize their notes, and a student/teacher opinion paragraph rubric (we use rubrics for EVERYTHING), I was ready to go. We had been working on opinion writing for a few weeks and I was SO happy to see that students were finally getting the idea. Because of lack of time, we were not writing a five paragraph opinion essay, instead we were using text evidence to write one paragraph with an opinion, reason, text evidence, and concluding sentence. They came out GREAT! I was so proud of my students. I am now excited to go and try Joanne's new idea she just posted about. This will make an awesome hallway bulletin board!

A student's t-chart created from the nonfiction article.

If you'd like to try this out with your class, click here to download your own copy FOR FREE! I included the text (which I did not write), the t-chart, the question and response page, and the rubric. If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes! :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Opinion Writing & Storms

I am excited to be back into my routine and am able to link up with Jivey for Workshop Wednesday. When I found out the topic of the day would be on opinion writing, I was thrilled. It is exactly what we are working on right now. I've been stalking Jivey's amazing blog lately because her class is also working on opinion writing and she has the cutest ideas.  While finishing up our first unit, we have been discussing natural disasters that can really mix home life. Last year, here in Connecticut we were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. In our latest edition of StoryWorks magazine,  there is an amazing article that really fit into our unit. From here we developed our lesson to tie into our reading and writing standards. If you don't have a subscription to StoryWorks and still want to try this out, don't worry, I have provided the links to both articles, just click on the pictures. 

So today we started off the lesson by reviewing close reading. We looked at my favorite bulletin board in the classroom, my Close Reading board (You can find the posters in my TpT store or by clicking on the picture!) We then read the first article Deep Trouble while it projected on the Smart Board. While we read the article we did a close read of the text together. I was lucky enough to have our amazing Reading Specialist, Kara, in the room during the lesson, so she created a T-Chart to organize the information as we completed the close read. We used a lot of chart paper, but it was so useful. The students were very interested in the article, but it was also scary for them since it hit "so close" to home. It talks about the rising sea levels, global warming, and pieces of the world just sinking into water in the future.

I was happy the students had strong reactions because it lead to great discussion and reactions. When we finished this article today, the students went back to their seats to close read the next article on their own, Surviving Hurricane Sandy. This was even more realistic to the students since we all experienced it. Since the storm hit just last year, they remember what happened to their families, neighbors, and relatives. The students read, highlighted, took notes, and created their own T-charts in their notebooks.

They didn't all finish today, so we will continue tomorrow. Tomorrow they are also going to write an opinion response using notes from both articles answering the question, "Should coastal cities and towns continue to prepare for massive storms?" This should *hopefully* lead to an excellent response from the students. It's a really interactive lesson, that touches on a ton of skills, strands, and standards. I am excited to read their responses!

Tomorrow I will be posting about another opinion writing lesson we completed this week and how awesome it turned out. I am also including it as a freebie! :)

Have a great week!