Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wohoo Wednesday! TPT Sale coming up...Time to fill up my WISHLIST! you heard about the TpT sale coming up for Cyber Monday & Tuesday? We are giving a 20% discount and TpT is giving a 10% sale. Somehow it evens up to being 28% off. Sounds good to me though because my TpT store Wishlist is overflowing! There are so many cute Common Core related products for the winter that I want to test out in my classroom, I am having trouble planning out just when to do it all! The first thing on my wishlist that I am going to be grabbing at the sale price is the *Mid Year ELA Review (Snowman)* from Emily over at I Love My Classroom! These adorable task cards cover all types of sentences, subjects & predicates, types of nouns, pronouns, and verbs.  I don't know about your class, but my 4th graders could ALWAYS use extra practice on these topics, plus the adorable snowmen are just too cute to pass up on.
Next on my wishlist is Ms. Jivey's "How Santa Got & Lost His Job - A Common Core Aligned Literature Unit!" As soon as Jivey put this out I added it to my wishlist and the books to my Amazon cart. I'm a sucker when it comes to any books "Santa" related because I can always reuse them at home with my kids. So I just ordered How Santa Got His Job and How Santa Lost His Job and am so excited to read them with my class. This unit also comes at a great time because I am always reinforcing the "Refer to Details from the Text" standard in my classroom. item that should be on your wishlist this winter is my new mini unit on "The History of Gingerbread!" This unit was a lot of fun creating and even more fun completing. I first created this for substitute plans when I was going to be at an inservice all day, because the work is easily understood, not considered busy work, and actually relates to standards I need to teach and complete. When going over the worksheets with my students we talked about more traditions, which led us to researching and writing informative articles on our own family traditions for the holidays. From here we compared and contrasted different traditions and even wrote a compare/contrast written response. I was able to assess my students multiple times while they were engaged and really learning. By allowing them to research their own traditions it was an easy way to differentiate the lesson, create groups, and allow students to go above and beyond. I hope you will check this out and test it in your classroom! 

I hope I have inspired you to fill your wishlist for the winter months because sales like this don't come around too often! Have a wonderful THANKSGIVING and enjoy the long weekend!

I also wanted to jump on the party with Molly for her fun Thankful Linky!

Don't forget to leave feedback on your previous purchases so you can get credits toward your Cyber Monday and Tuesday purchases!!! Now don't just sit there... go fill your wishlist!! :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Strategies & Ideas to Get Kids Writing PLUS an awesome GIVEAWAY!!

Today I am linking up with my girl, Jivey, for Workshop Wednesday! The topic is strategies or ideas to get kids writing
My advice is to get the students in the habit of doing lots and lots of writing, and then set aside a different time to re-visit selected pieces. I do this a few ways. I start out in the beginning of the year by making it a daily routine to complete a ten minute quick write. Quick writes are not judged on spelling or grammar, but instead promote writing stamina. At the end of ten minutes the students count the number of words the wrote, write the number at the top, and circle it. Hopefully the number improves throughout the year. I get the ideas for my quick writes by using a month writing calendar that I created.

 The calendar works great because 
  • The boxes aren't it can be used year after year
  • The prompts are different and promote creativity as well as thought
  • There are a few "free choice" activities each month so students can choose to elaborate on an entry or write what is on their mind. 
After the students record their number of words I always call of a few students to share their writing. Usually everyone volunteers and wants to share, so I try to pick different students each day.

A really cool new idea that I can use this year is sharing student work by simply making a copy! My district just received new copy machines that have an email function. When making copies I can simply press a button and have the document emailed to me. In class I can show the document on the Smart Board and mark it up. Not only do the students love adding this technology into the classroom, but they love having their work shown on the big screen. I allow students to come up to the board and use the Smart Board pens to mark up sections of writing (circle the introduction in red, underline the example of text evidence this student used in paragraph two...etc.) This is a great way to collect student writing samples so that students can analyze someone else's piece. Hopefully from here they will be sure to focus on big-picture issues like staying on topic and organizing information into paragraphs before they look at capitalization or word choice. Then students can start applying ideas from the discussions to their own work.

With the CCSS having so much emphasis on collaboration between peers, I often have the students meet with me and/or their peers while using checklists and rubrics to examine their own writing. They end up learning so much independence from this process, and they eventually get over the idea that they can just crank out a piece and call it a day without doing some revisions. I create rubrics for all writing pieces. I allow the students to give input so they can understand how the piece should be set up and where their grade comes from. I also make rubrics with a student score as well as a teacher score. By having a student go through the rubric to grade their own work before passing it in, it will give them another opportunity to double check their work.  This also helps parents see how their child was graded when the work is eventually sent home.

I hope you found some of these ideas helpful! I can't wait to read more ideas to get kids writing!

Now it's time to show my appreciation to you! THANK YOU for following my blog, leaving me motivating comments, and letting me know I am not alone in this crazy job of teaching.

A bunch of bloggers have joined up to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for following us.  Thank you for your support, encouragement, and friendship.  We have learned so much from you.  

So we wanted to say thank you with a Gift Card Giveaway.  

Simply fill in the rafflecopter below and you have a chance to win one of 3 prizes. 
(You can fill in the rafflecopter on any of our blogs, it's all the same one.) 

3 lucky winners will win a $25 gift card to TPT.  

Good luck!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Weekly Parent Newsletters!

It's time to link up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday and with Technology Tailgate for Techie Tuesday! I love these link ups and often find so many new ideas to test out.

This year my goal was to get better at keeping parents informed. I thought of sending home a newsletter, but didn't want to recreate the wheel each week. Because of this, I created a Power Point file with TEN editable newsletters. It's supper easy and convenient because each week I just click in the precreated text boxes and type. I save the newsletter as a PDF and send it off to parents.

Another great tip is creating a parent group in email. I could take you step by step on how to do that, but I have a school email program called Novell GroupWise. If anyone also uses that and would like directions, please email me, I'd love to help. My parent group is listed as ~Parents2013. When I type that in the address section it automatically emails all of the parents. If you didn't want to send it by email, you could always print the newsletter and send it home with the notices at the end of the week. The parent response has been awesome. Most of the times I have parents press "reply" and thank me for keeping them in the loop and involved in their child's education. 

I also add a picture collage page. I simply pull out my cell phone and snap some pictures during the week of projects, great handwriting, proud students, smiles, and even some at recess time. I email the pictures from my phone to the computer, drag them onto power point to create a college, turn the power point into a pdf and attach that to the email as well. The parents love seeing their child at school and in action. I know being a parent I love communication and pictures from my child's teacher (even if she is only in pre-school) so I'm sure it goes for most parents. 

If you'd like to check this out and try it check out the Editable Newsletter Bundle on TPT

It has great reviews and one buyer stated, "This is a must have file for any teacher K-6. The templates are beautiful and you will easily be able to send home good news or post it on your school site!"

I love positive feedback. Thank you! :)

To start you off, I created a FREEBIE for a November themed editable newsletter for you to test out and try! Please let me know what you think! :)

Good luck! I hope this was helpful! :)

Want to know a little secret? Check back tomorrow for your chance to empty or put a HUGE dent in your TPT wishlist!!! :)