Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Writing Process

Writer's Workshop & The Writing Process

This year is my first year implementing writer's workshop. I luckily was also starting grad school and my first class in September was The Writing Process, where we read Fletcher's fabulous book Writing Workshop the Essential Guide which I've talked about in other posts as well. It is super "user-friendly" and really talks you through the basics of writer's workshop but in a way that you can mold to fit in any classroom. I don't like books that try to "script" anything in your room, I like to make it my own and this book leaves lots of room for that!

So anyway, Writer's Workshop is going really well in my room, I like the "freedom" of it, giving the kiddos a lot of choice in what they write about, what they choose to publish, etc. Sometimes it is hard to meet my district's requirements, such as ensuring students have a published personal narrative when most of my kiddos preferred to make up a story rather than tell a story about themselves, but we're making it work.

One area that I've struggled with is knowing WHEN my students really need to conference. I really don't like when I am not able to meet with a certain kiddo for a few days and when I finally do meet with him or her I find out that they have needed to conference for days about their piece.

A few of the teachers in my building have a system where the kiddos velcro their name to a poster with each step of the writing process as they move throughout it. That way, they know when a kiddo needs to conference. Since I like "cutsie" and the sound of velcro gives me goosebumps, I decided to make a set of posters to display in my room to serve the same purpose.

So, I've created a TPT product with 2 sizes of writing process posters as well as a writing process "bookmark" to keep in their writing folders. I am planning to begin using the posters in my room after break. Each kiddo will have a clothespin with their name on it and will clip their name on the part of the writing process they are currently working on.

If you would like a different step or you call a step something different in your room, please contact me through TPT or here and I would be happy to customize the product for you! Click the image above to check out the product and stay tuned for more posts about Writer's Workshop in my classroom!

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Surviving "Santa" Week

It's the longest week of the year!
I don't mean to be a Grinch, but oh man is the week before Christmas break long and tough all around! We spent a lot of time working on our mini penguin unit, being serious about math (so we could squeeze in an assessment before they left for break) and doing lots and lots of fun crafts!

 I'm linking up for 5 for Friday!

Check out my crazy week... the LONGEST week of the year!
"Santa" texted my students all week, reminding them how important it was to behave and follow directions since he was watching in the "Santa Cam"... Crazy about how many elaborate lies teachers (and parents) tell around Christmas, haha! My dad was kind enough to be "Santa" (the hubby can't text as much on his job) and the "Santa Cam" is the light sensor in the corner of my room.

We made these awesome snow flakes. It took a lot of cutting, a few trees worth of paper and about 3 days for all of the kiddos to finish, but they looked SO awesome :)



And more penguins...

We finished our mini penguin unit with a penguin K.W.L., Penguins Can/Have/Are, Beginning, middle and end (Tacky the Penguin), Penguin vocab and a fun penguin craft. We also did a fact flap book with our fifth grade buddies, but I don't have a picture of those. All the penguin printables were from Amy Lemon's Penguin Unit.


 ... crafts...

did I mention, we love crafts?

Reindeer hats, penguin hates, sock snowmen and ornaments! The ornaments we made aren't exactly like this one, my kiddos wrote 2nd grade and the year and also were able to "bedazzle" their ornaments with sequins.

The sock snowmen didn't come out as perfect as the above picture... we donned them with googly eyes, because who doesn't love googly eyes. 

The reindeer hat was something one of my grade level partners had for a long time, the kiddos LOVED making them.

Finally, the penguin hat was of course from Amy Lemon's unit linked above.

The ho-ho-holidays! Getting  a little festive (2 different festive nail paintings this week & fun shirt!) oh and lights up all week and holiday table cloths for our party. Wish I would have taken pictures of them opening their book gifts, they were so cute and excited! Do you know what movie is on my promethean board?

Well that was my crazy, crazy week! I hope you all have a wonderfully Merry Christmas. I'm hoping to get a little blogging and some TPT work done over the vacation!

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Horrible Harry Moves Up to Third Grade

Some things just don't change when moving grade to grade...

Lots of things have changed from 2nd grade in room 2B to third grade in 3B. In  Suzy Kline's, Horrible Harry Moves Up to Third Grade, one of those changes is NOT
how horrible Harry can be, especially to his "sworn enemy," Sidney. When Sidney kills Harry's pet spider, their relationship only gets worse! But in typical Harry fashion, he comes up with a plan of revenge that will take place on the class field trip to a copper mine with a creepy history. I'm sure you will enjoy Harry's antics in Horrible Harry Moves up to Third Grade. And if you enjoy this book, you'll enjoy the other Horrible Harry books!

Reading Level: Guided Reading L
                          DRA 28
                          Lexile  460L

Teachers... here are some resources for you...

Web Resources:
  • Here is a freebie from me filled with comprehension questions for each chapter.
  • Check out this multiple choice quiz for quick comprehension after each chapter.
  • Suzy Kline's author site has a few ideas, scroll down to find Horrible Harry Moves up to Third Grade.
  • Check out how this teacher used Miss Mackle's memento assignment in her classroom!
 Chapter 1: archway, boulders, phony, bouquet, wastepaper basket
Chapter 2: monitor, employment, temporarily, memento, magmum opus, souvenir, revenge
Chapter 3: cellophane, abdomen, cringed, sneered, pleaded
Chapter 4: rocky, bargain, dashed, peered, dreaded
Chapter 5: fossil, courtyard, counterfeiter, ransack, musket, groped, frayed, handkerchief
Chapter 6: chaperone, smear, pronto, compliment, can (bathroom)

Before Reading:
  • If your kiddos have read Horrible Harry books before, make a list of things that they predict will be the same or different in this book.
  • Preteach some of the vocab. My students had difficulty with phony and abdomen in particular
During Reading:
  • Keep track of what is the same and different from last year and 2B and this year in 3B. Especially in the first chapters there is a lot of mention about what has and has not changed. This activity will be even better if the kiddos have read Horrible Harry books before.
  • Ask kiddos what kind of memento they would bring in and why.
  • Have a discussion about the interactions between Harry and Sidney. Who would you "side with" and why? Who has the upper hand? What would you do if you were Harry or Sidney?
After Reading:
  • What do you predict will happen between Harry and Sidney as the year goes on?
  • Write a part of the story from Harry or Sidney's perspective.
  • Write about what Sidney was doing when he disappeared from his perspective.
Across the Curriculum: Science
  • Does your grade level have a rocks unit? Perfect companion fiction book for it!
  •  Have your kiddos read a nonfiction book or article on the black widow and brown recluse or other spiders.

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The Beast in Ms. Rooney's Room

Richard is a "stay-back" will he ever fit in?

When Richard "Beast" Best has to stay back and be in class with "babies" then finds out his old friends aren't interested in his friendship anymore, Richard isn't sure he's going to survive! But then it gets worse, he has to go to the special reading class. Will Richard be able to stay out of trouble and help his new class win the good behavior banner? Find out in Patricia Reilly Giff's The Beast in Ms. Roney's Room.

Reading Level: Guided Reading - M
                           DRA - 28
                           Lexile - 340L

Teachers... here are some resources for you...

Web Resources:
  •  Reading A-Z: If your school district or you have a reading A-Z account, use this lesson plan and worksheets to help you teach with this book.
  • Freebie from me. Enjoy these Comprehension Questions that I use with my reading group/club when they are reading this book.
  • Richard is a perfect example of a character who changes throughout a story. Use the freebie from me for character development.
gigantic, wondered, banner, assembly, auditorium, poke, tough, asparagus, midget, silky, skidded, exception, faucet, remedial, clamped, cement, inched


Before Reading:
Ask students to preview the book looking at pictures and reading the first line or 2 of each chapter. Then have students write down questions or predictions they have.

During Reading:
As helpful as comprehension packets are for reading groups and book clubs, sometimes it is SO much more telling for the kiddos to have a discussion. As a teacher, it's really hard not to jump in and correct or redirect, but after some practice, the kiddos can run their own book talks. Try introducing this conversation menu (based on 2nd grade CCSS, but can easily be applied to other grades) to help focus students' comments during discussion. Also use this "adding to comments" sentence starters to help students appropriately add to or respond to others' comments.

After Reading:
This book is GREAT to focus on how a character responds to major events and changes. Use the freebie above to organize the ways Richard changed throughout the story.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Penguins & Holidays!

I'm linking up with 5 for Friday today with a little penguin & holiday fun...

I've been dying to weave my love of penguins into my curriculum the past 2 years and this year, with a unit ending 2 weeks before the break and not wanting to fully start our next unit gave me the PERFECT opportunity! Especially since we are moving from fiction to nonfiction... I could read fiction penguin books, make the transition to non-fiction, then compare fiction and nonfiction, oh how I love when the stars align!

Thanks to Amy Lemons' penguin unit I have all kinds of craftivities and printables to use this past week and this coming week to help us try to enjoy this cold! Click the photo below to get your own copy!

New door decs for December! Penguin themed of course. My kiddos made these craftivities from Amy Lemon's unit above! I loved that one of my ladies picked the big blue bow tie to put in their penguin's hair!

Much love to Scholastic for their points that have been helping me build my classroom library over the past 2 years. This time, they helped me to buy presents for each of my kiddos. I loved that they had a "2nd grade" pack with multiple copies of multiple levels so that I could get a just right book for each kiddo.

Gotta love snow days (except for when you're making them up in June!) See my last post to get the recipes for these delicious goodies!

Be on the lookout for posts this weekend on some of my kiddos latest guided reading picks...

Now it's time to get snowed in for the weekend with the hubby & the puppy!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who Doesn't Love a Snow Day?

As much as I will DESPISE making up the snow day come June, it was SUCH a nice surprise to have a snow day today :)

However, I did learn a few things before 6AM...
#1 Be thankful for your co-workers (one of mine texted me excited about the snowday that I didn't even know we had!)
#2 If there's snow in the forecast, don't plan on that being one of the days you go in extra early to get stuff done in your class (I was dressed and ready to go when I got the text from my wonderful co-worker)
#3 Make sure your phone number is on the school all-call list so you don't have to depend on the news to get your district up there before you're out of bed and ready to go.

One of my teacher-friends also texted me this morning, and I can't help but share...

I spent my morning baking cookies, and so in an a-typical post, here are some wonderful desserts to make for Christmas, or just because! Click on the picture to go to the link where I got the recipe!

Oreo Truffles, always a holiday favorite... 3 ingredients and no bake! Follow the recipe on the link, but if you don't like mint, use regular oreos... I use double stuffed!

Nutter Butter Truffles, just like Oreo Truffles. I'm not sure where I found the recipe for these, it is super easy though...

Ingredients: Package of Nutterbutter cookies
8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/4-1/2 cup of peanut butter
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 bag of peanut butter chips
(or you could use just one or the other)

Crush cookies in a food processor. Add cream cheese and peanut butter. Process until blended evenly. (I don't have a food processor, so I separated the cookies and peanut butter middle, and put the cookies in a plastic bag and used a rolling pin to crush the cookies, then I put the cookie crumbs, peanut butter middle, cream cheese and peanut butter into my standing mixer and blended the ingredients that way)
Put mixture in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
Put peanut butter balls into the fridge to chill before dipping.
Melt the white or peanut butter chips and dip the truffles. I drizzled a little white chocolate on my pb dipped truffles and vice versa.

Click here for an easy way to melt & dip truffles or any other chocolate dipped desserts!

Muddy Buddies... my grandma used to make these when I was a kid!

Peanut butter M&M Peanut butter cookies...  No recipe needed for these, just put Peanut butter M&M's in your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe or mix.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies... for the pumpkin lovers out there! These were very sweet, next time I think I will use only half a bag of white chips! For some reason the recipe ingredients don't mention white chips, but within the directions tells you when to add them in, so I wasn't sure how much to use.

Finally, the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe, ever! Since I found this recipe I will NEVER use another! I find the cookies spread less and come out better if you refrigerate the dough first. And you really only need to bake for 10 minutes (even if they don't look done yet, they cook a little more as they sit on the tray for 1-2 minutes). They stay soft and delicious even once they cool! The hubby can't get enough of them! Warning... you may want to cut the recipe in half, it makes around 6 dozen cookies.

I also finished all my grad class work today, hooray!
Now if only I had brought my kiddos book gifts home to wrap during my snow day, I would have felt EXTRA productive!!!

I hope you enjoyed your snow day if you had one, and if you didn't I hope your kiddos were fabulous today :)

Here's a few pictures of my puppy to make you smile...

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