Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Spark Motivation: Musical Reading Chairs!, it seems as though my students are checking out. We still have twenty days of school left and have a LOT to get accomplished in that time. The same students that were avid readers are reading more and more, but the ones that never reading enjoyed reading are back at doing anything and everything to avoid the subject. To get their attention, motivate my students to read, and help them find a new genre or interest to read about, I came up with Musical Reading Chairs. 

Next year, I will ABSOLUTELY incorporate this into my lesson plans for the first few days of school.

This turned out to be a great interactive approach to get the kids reading, moving, sharing, conversing, all while having fun.

I divided the class into two sections and had them all bring their chair and "Just Right Book" over to the carpet. We arranged the chairs like we were playing good old Musical Chairs. I had the students sit down and continue reading their JRB, while I set a timer for 3 minutes. 

I then turned on Pandora to KidsBop and played some fun music. The students had to put their book down on their chair and walk/dance around the circle until the music stopped. I took video of this because it was pretty entertaining to watch. lol


When the music stopped, they sat in the closest chair, picked up the book, and started from page one for three minutes. We repeated this 4 times and the kids LOVED it. We then put the room back in order and all met on the reading carpet. 

I gave the students a chance to discuss books that interested them, with the students who were reading and knew more information about the book. The students were all busy buzzing about books, not one student sat around speechless. 

Next we created a "sign up sticky" for the books. If there were multiple people interested in a book we put their names, in a list, on a sticky note, and put it on the last page of the book. When the current reader finishes the book, he/she will know who to pass it off to.

There is nothing better than getting students motivated and excited to read! Guess which book was the most popular? 

Looks like I will be ordering more of this series for next year!

Have a wonderful long weekend teacher friends! Thanks to my sweet friend Joanne for hosting today's linky! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Pranks

Wordless Wednesday

I love working with awesome colleagues. When the going gets tough and the stress comes to a boil they are always there to cheer me up and give me a good laugh. 

This is Robyn's idea of a prank on me, while I was monitoring recess duty...after "someone" left crumbs on her calendar. She's doomed ;) 

Do you do anything special for colleagues when it is a very stressful time of year? 

or more importantly... Do you know any good pranks I can retaliate with?

Workshop Wednesday, Book Recommedation, & Hero Unit

Hi Friends, I am excited to link up with the one and only Jivey, for her last Workshop Wednesday post of they year. The topic is "Books you use at the end of the year." Since here in Connecticut, we've had so many snow days, we tacked on days to the last day of school. Almost two weeks to be exact! We now have 23 days left and have just started our last unit on heroes. This is one of my favorite units to teach for many reasons, one being that the students really connect with the unit.

I always read the book, Melissa Parkington's Beautiful Hair. I love this book because the kids totally get it and understand that being a "hero" is something that is achievable even at a young age.

Amazon reviewed this book stating: Melissa wants to accomplish something special, but what could it be? "Spectacular!" "Gorgeous!" "Fabulous!" Those are some of the words people use to describe Melissa Parkington's hair, which is long, thick, and so shiny that it seems to sparkle. But Melissa would like to be known for more than her hair. Melissa wants to do something spectacular. But everything she tries doesn't seem to work out. Then one day she discovers that she can do something special—with her hair. Pat Brisson's engaging and thought-provoking story features lively illustrations by Suzanne Bloom.

This is a great introduction to discussing sacrifices students have made in order to help others. It also provides a great introduction to the website Kids are Heroes. Seriously, this site is awesome to use in class. I usually have my students browse the heroes and take notes of the students that did deeds they could connect with. It also inspires other students to nominate each other and themselves. The site has great tools for giving "Shout Outs" (sending notes to the heroes), searching for updated information on their Facebook pages, tweeting the children, or even reading newspaper articles about the heroes. It is very engaging, inspiring, and real for everyone.

I have some students that collect animal supplies instead of birthday presents to donate to animal shelters, others who have donated to Locks for Love continuously, and even other students who have held lemonade stands every summer to earn a charity donation. 

Today, after finishing the lesson, some students begged me to let them nominate themselves. We ended up printing some parent consent forms. I told my students if they wanted to get on the site, I will help them write nominations in class. This is such a real world connection for the students. It makes me proud that a book and website can spark such an interest and excitement in my students. I am looking forward to the rest of this unit and to seeing what my students come up with for nominations.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Stay Organized Through the End of the Year {Linky}

I'm excited to be linking up with my amazingly organized friend, Diane, at Fifth in the Middle, to discuss some tips on staying organized at the end of the year.
I can honestly say that I am not the most organized person in the world. As a mother of a two and four year old, a fourth grade teacher to 46 ten year olds, a wife to a P.E. teacher, and a friend to many, I have a million lists running through my head allllll day long. Seriously, just while making dinner tonight, I had a constant check off list in my head. While trying to make pasta and realizing there was no sauce...I was thrown for a loop.  To save yourself time and stress, I am compiling a few time saving, sanity giving,  organizational skills in this post.

Do you have to empty out your room at the end of the year? Unless we are moving rooms, we just have to make sure everything is basically off the walls and floor. Everything goes in piles on shelves, but to stay organized, I like to label...everything. Last year, we started keeping baskets for each unit. This has been awesome. When we find books for each unit, when finished, we simply place them in the basket. When it comes time to prep for the next unit, our memories of great lessons come back to us when we look in the labeled bins. By keeping the bins organized, even when the room is a mess from the end of the year purge, my books never get lost or misplaced! 

 Do you ever lose books at the end of the year? It seems like some of my favorites always go missing. I know a ton that stay at home with the students who "borrowed" them, but it drives me crazy when book club books go missing.

I give all the credit in the next picture to Robyn. I laugh at her because she seriously has OCD, but I am always in her room grabbing from her organized resource bins. On the left we keep all of our copied homework packets for the WHOLE YEAR! This is created the first week of school and it saves SO much time. You know how all the parents are eager to volunteer when school starts? Give them a project like this and you will be thankful all year! We love our homework packets. They are meaningful, challenging, grade appropriate, and actually fun! When we take from the folder, we always leave an extra copy inside. Pretty soon the bin will be empty again and ready for easy copying!

On the right are all of our master copies for our most used resources.  It contains Jivey's Mentor Sentence Units, our Weekly Morning Work Packets, Cursive Pages, and a whole lot more. This makes it easy to keep a steady routine and we never have to go searching for papers. 

I hope my/Robyn's organizational tips have given you some ideas. Good luck with the end of your school year, I hope it is smooth and painless! I am off to finish my end of the year reflection!

25 more days for us! :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wordless Wednesday! {Project Adventure in P.E.}

Wordless Wednesday! 

 Our students get the chance to work on the project adventure course outside when the weather finally warms up. They develop teamwork skills and have to work on their listening and speaking standards. Although they look forward to this ALL YEAR, I wish they did this course in the beginning of the year to learn about each other and develop a bond as a class.

Do your students do anything special during P.E. when the weather is warm?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Scholastic bonus point shopping spree! Any book suggestions!?

Isn't it funny how we anxiously await the end of the school year, but begin planning for the next? One of the things that I'm doing right now for next year is making book selections. I'm using my Red Apple Teacher (free shipping) and my awesome Scholastic Points I've been accumulating all year and taking a free shopping spree. Is Scholastic awesome? Seriously, if you don't send home book flyers, you are totally missing out. Make that one of your goals for next year and if you'd like more information or a step by step tutorial of just HOW EASY it is, please let me know! I'd be happy to make a video to teach you and talk you through the process.

Every year my fourth graders range in reading levels from 1st grade through 6th grade + ! I try to find books that are on a multitude of levels, but look age appropriate. Who wants to be in fourth grade and be caught reading "Clifford Books"? (Obviously there is nothing wrong with Clifford, I happen to love him, but it is discouraging for my students to be reading that while their friends are reading the Harry Potter series. 

So what am I getting??? 

 My students LOVED Swindle, so I am sure they will be excited to see the rest of the series in the classroom library.
 I never heard of this series, but it looks interesting and looks like something even the boys will like.
 This is going on my summer reading list. I've heard mixed reviews on it, but want to give it a try.
 My class is a HUGE fan of this series and we own enough for book  clubs on each book. We were even lucky enough to have the author, Lauren Tarshis, come to speak to the students in our school! She was inspiring and has such a great success story!
 Well...I got some boys away from the Wimpy Kid series (seriously that is ALL they read), but now we are moving on to Big Nate. At least they are reading...right? 

 These bundles look great!
You know my love for Riding Freedom! I'm shocked this is becoming popular again. It is such an old, but AMAZING story. We have a class set and read it ever year in our Revolutionary unit. We use our novel study to accompany the book and the students rave about it!

What am I missing? I have more points to spend. Any favorites that you've had this year?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wordless Wednesday....I LOVE field trips!

I am excited to be linking up with a new adorable blog I found, Sugar and Spice, for Wordless Wednesday. If you know me, you will understand how hard it is for me to be "wordless" so I will try to keep this short!

Below is my class on one of our four nature center field trips. We get a chance to go twice in the Fall and twice in the Spring through an educational grant. My class thinks they are big shots because they are the only students in the school who get to go on FOUR extra field trips. The nature center comes into the classroom twice during the year to preteach information to the students too! I seriously lucked out on this gig!

  Being outside in the "wilderness" with my students ALL DAY is seriously awesome.  It is amazing how much we learn about the curriculum, nature, and each other.

I'd love to know, what are your favorite field trips? 
Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Made it through Monday! Teacher Appreciation Week & The ULTIMATE Mother's Day Card!

Hello friends! 

Don't forget that TPT is having a Teacher Appreciation Sale May 6-7.  My store will be 20% off and then TPT will add an additional 10% bringing the total to 28% off!  A perfect time to collect some things for this year and maybe even for next. Don't forget to use the code TPTXO! :)

I know I've been filling my cart and planning out the end of my year.

Today was the start of Teacher Appreciation Week. Our wonderful PTO put together a fun week full of surprises. Today was "Bring a Flower for your Teacher Day!" This is my beautiful bouquet from my sweet gems.

I made a cute note for my daughter's preschool teacher & para, painted the frame to match, and set it up today. I am pretty impressed with how they came out. My daughter is SO excited to give them to her teachers, although my husband said, "I'd rather have a gift card." GRRRR

I have to show off our adorable Mother's Day cards that we started today. I absolutely love them and the students think they are the coolest gifts ever. You should read what they are writing on the coupons. Stay tuned for more pictures as they finish them in class tomorrow! 

(This will be on sale for the TPT sale tomorrow, so grab it while you can!)

If you want to create a meaningful craftivity, but don't have a ton of time, this is perfect for you and your students. It comes with a card, a pocket, and five different choices for coupons.

Have a great night and HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK! :)