Sunday, July 14, 2013

Comprehension Connections

    This has been such a productive summer for me!  I just finished my third "teacher" book and I am so proud of myself!  I feel like I am ready to tackle the up-coming school year!

     One of the books that I read was Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor.  She does a great job of showing the reader how to teach six specific comprehension skills: visualizing, determining importance, questioning, inferring, schema, and metacognition.  What I loved the most about the book is that she included basic ways to teach each comprehension skill.  She also used thinking stems for each skill.  I created Hollywood themed thinking stems which you can download for FREE below.   

     This idea also came from Comprehension Connections.  I simply used paint samples and attached the labels.  Isn't this an EASY way to check students' understanding.?!?! Simply have them point to the level of THEIR understanding.  You can do a quick check and either reteach or move on.  Love it!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Curious George is Curious About Our Community

     Did you notice Kohl's has Curious George stuffed animals for sale as part of their Kids Caring and Sharing Program?  Need a fun way to incorporate this curious fellow into your classroom?  Well here you go!  Several years ago, I came across a teacher that used Curious George as a means to get her students curious about their community. I thought this was such a great way for students to highlight various places in our community.  This activity is one of the most popular activities in my class.
   At the beginning of the school year, I send home a letter explaining the project and asking parents if they would like to "host" Curious George for a two-night stay at their house.  Once a date is set, I send home this bag with the student.  I ordered this bag from 31 and had it embroidered with the title "Curious About Our Community." 

Inside the bag, I have the following items: for George a (fake) banana, drinking bowl, two of his favorite Curious George books and for the student a binder (with lined and unlined paper), crayons and pencils. 
Students are asked to take Curious George around the community and write back to the class explaining all of the neat places they visited together.  Can you see where all of the learning is taking place??  Students are actively learning about the community and writing a reflection.  When students bring their bag back to school, they share their writing and any illustrations and/or pictures with the class.  I allow time for the class to ask the student any questions about their community experience with Curious George.  After the student shares, I present him/her with a packet of Curious George gummy snacks!  Yes, they actually make them and I love the connection! :)
      Besides students loving this activity, so do parents!  They email me pictures of George in all kinds of places!  Once I went to watch a few of my students play in their basketball game and it just so happened that one of the students was hosting George for the weekend.  Guess who was also at the basketball game??   Yep....Curious George!  The mom took a picture of the boys, Curious George and me.  It really was hilarious! 
      So head on out to Kohl's and grab your Curious George stuffed animal and get your students excited about their community and writing!!!  :)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

6 + 1 Traits of Good Writing Binder

     Summer is here and that means it is time for me to reflect on the previous school year.  I love sitting in silence (HA!) and thinking about ways I can improve various aspects of my classroom.  Are you like that?!!?  I bet you are!  Otherwise, you would not be spending time reading blogs finding new ideas for your classroom. :)
So... one area that I really wanted to spice up is writing!  In the past, my students had one writing folder where they just tossed everything in.  Most of the time, I would open up folders and there would be stuff from months ago!  I was appalled!  Therefore, I came up with a 6 Traits Writing Binder.  You can download all of the sheets that I have made by clicking on the front cover picture.

      My principal is a huge supporter of 6 Traits.  Last year, she encouraged our staff to implement a trait a month.  She wanted to use a "common language" among all of our students so that as they move from grade to grade it all made sense to them. I typed up the phrases for each trait and mounted it on a piece of scrapbook paper.  I then slid it in the front cover of a 1" binder.  This will serve as the cover page.  Besides being kid-friendly, I think it will be a great resource for students to refer back to throughout the school year.
Instead of buying dividers for all 25+ students, I wanted to find something a bit more meaningful.  I came across quotes from individuals about each trait.  I tried locating link where I found it, but I couldn't locate it!  SORRY!!!!!!  I copied each of these quotes on colored paper so it would be easier for my students to locate that trait in their binder.  I also placed each quote in a protective sleeve (for durability). 
Next, I made a few goodies to have for the start of the school year.  First, I made a hook and wrap-up planning sheet.  My students and I will brainstorm various ways to begin and end our writing.  They will keep these pages in their binder for use throughout the school year.  I did copy both of those sheets on cardstock.  It drives me nuts when papers are ripped and hanging out of binders.  I thought the cardstock would hold up better. :)


I also tweaked an idea I found on Amanda Madden's blog.  I really like having students brainstorm other ways to say overused words.  I made this sheet so we could complete as a class.  I also created one that is blank so that it can meet the needs of individual students.
One other item that I am placing in their binders is a set of mini-labels.  Each label shows a different 6 trait.  I am going to use these during FREE WRITE.  Do you find that your students' free write really has no purpose?  I do!  I am going to have my students select one sticker BEFORE writing in their FREE WRITE journal.  They are going to place it at the top of the entry.  Whatever trait label they select will be what they have to focus on in their writing.  I want my students to be held accountable during this time.  This will also serve as a great informal assessment since they are writing without much guidance from me.

I am placing blank pocket sleeves at the back of the binder so students can keep "special" pieces of writing.  For example, I always read First Day Jitters on the first day of school.  We complete a writing activity after the book.  I keep this piece of writing until the last week of school.  By placing it in their binder, they will see how much they have grown as a writer just by looking at that piece of writing in their binder. 
This is just the beginning of the writing binder!  I am excited!  I like that it is organized, colorful and kid-friendly! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hollywood Theme

Lights!  Camera!  Action!  I am revamping my Hollywood theme for our upcoming school year!  I really wanted everything to flow nicely in my classroom.  I have been busy recreating many of the things that I already do, but added that Hollywood flare to it! 
I use this as a whole class behavior system.  Display a 100's chart for the class (or use the one provided in my Hollywood packet on TPT).  The class can earn numbers based on specific positive behaviors.  I created posters on how to earn numbers so the class is always aware.  When the class earns numbers, have a student or students pull out however many numbers the class earned.  Use a dry erase marker to color in the 100's chart.  When the class earns a BINGO, they earn a classroom treat (popcorn party, extra recess, no homework for the night, etc.). I have provided class prize tickets in my Hollywood packet.  (I did leave one blank in case you would like to add your own reward).  When the class earns a BINGO, I have one student select a ticket on behalf of the class. 
Helpful Tips:
*I laminate the100's board so you can wipe off the dry erase marker and reuse.
*Cut up one of the 100's charts to use as the numbers the students pull from.  I keep mine in a plastic container.
I love having a book or double copies of the same book on display each week.  The book normally goes along with what we are studying, the season, holiday, etc.  My students love letting their classmates know how they feel about the book.  After they read the entire book, I have my students place their picture magnet under YES or NO (depending on if they feel the book was worthy of having a friend read it).  I switch out the book each week.  To stock up, I always buy the $1.00 in the monthly Scholastic orders. 
I think this is just fun!  I love teaching writing.  I feel the more excitement you put into something, your students will feel your vibe!  I love getting my students pumped about writing.  For fun, I make the labels and place on Tootsie POPS.  The label says, "Your writing POPS!"  I try to find 1-2 pieces of writing that really shows improvement, uses great word choice, sentence fluency, etc.  My students feel super special when they get a Tootsie POP!
Here are my rules for my classroom.  You can download them for FREE!!!!!!  Just click on the image.

You can find my Hollywood set at my TPT store or by clicking on the image above.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!! :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Exit Slips

Even though summer break has arrived, I have not stopped thinking school!!!!!  I love brainstorming new ideas, creating and planning for the upcoming school year!

      Recently, I put together a set of EXIT slips.  I love having a variety of assessment tools to use in my class.  EXIT slips are quick, easy and a great way to check for student understanding.  The set I created contain sentence starters so students have to finish the rest after the lesson.  You can try them out in your own classroom for FREE!  There are 8 different EXIT slips!!  Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Indiana Bloggers Blog Hop FREEBIE

Thank you, Fun in First, for linking up with me on the
Hoosier Blog Hop!!!! 
Great idea on reviewing sight words with your first graders!  If you just joined in, you can click on the image below to check our Jodi's FREEBIE!

   Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines for the final stretch of another school year! During these last few days of school, it seems to me that it becomes even more difficult to keep my students motivated and excited about school. Here is a fun way to get students up and moving while learning even more about their classmates. Download the FREEBIE called "On the Road to Find a Friend."

Keep the Hoosier Blog Hop moving by visiting Seusstastic! Just click on the image below and check out the FREEBIE Mel has left for you!
Enjoy and safe travels to you!


Monday, May 6, 2013

Red Carpet Movie Premiere Day!

Last week, families were able to walk the red carpet at our "Movie Premiere" day!  Let me tell you about this fun, meaningful writing activity that you can do with your class!

     About a month ago, I sent home a disposable camera with each student.  To cut back on the cost, you could ask parents to email or send in family pictures.  Students were asked to take pictures of their immediate family members (grandparents were welcome, too).  I had the film developed to a DVD only.  I uploaded their pictures to Microsoft Word and resized them to one page.  This allowed each student to see what his or her pictures looked like.  Next, students wrote about each family member.  Following that, I used Microsoft Movie Maker to record students' voices reading their family report.  I matched up the pictures with their spoken words.  The end result.... an incredible family movie!!!  Families came last week to view the movies.  For fun, I gave each family a tub of popcorn to eat while watching the movies.  Each family took home their own copy as a special keepsake.  This is such a neat way to wrap-up the year and highlight your students' writing skills!

My Movie Stars!
Student Movie and Popcorn Tubs