Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gobblin' Up Main Ideas and Details

 Today, I am sharing a fun and festive way to review main idea and details in your classroom.

 I am always teaching and reteaching main idea and details to my kiddos throughout the year. Seems like they can never get enough practice with this skill. Any way I can change it up and make it seem like a fun thing to learn, then I am "all over it!" Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I decided to merge turkeys and main idea together for this review lesson. 
The kids worked in partners with a short passage. Some were informational text. Some were fictional text. On their white boards, they wrote what they thought the main idea and details from the story were. Next, they shared their ideas out to the other partners at their table. Finally, they made their turkeys.

The kids wrote the main idea on the body of the turkey. Then, they chose 4 important details to write on each of the feathers and assembled their turkeys. I displayed them with the common core standards for my grade level .

If you would like a festive way to review main idea and details with your kiddos, you can grab this activity for FREE by clicking on  the link below.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Parent Conference Tips & Tricks

I survived! Yes, I did! I just finished two weeks of parent/teacher conferences! Yes, you read that correctly...two weeks. BUT... let me tell you why AND why I have now come to look forward to conference time.

I used to dread parent/conferences. Not only did I have to complete all my students' report cards (which as we all know, takes HOURS/DAYS), but then I had to sit with each family and reread the report card to them. HATED IT! Something needed to change.

My school decided to meet with parents BEFORE report cards come out, so there are NO SURPRISES! I schedule my conferences over a two week period. Each conference is 15 minutes long. YEP...15 minutes! It is possible to get it all in, make it personalized, and inform the parents how to help their kids moving forward.

I choose to schedule them over two weeks, so I don't have to have 10 conferences in one day and feel rushed. Only having 2-3 conferences a day is manageable for me and I am not so overwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, some days there are more, some days there are no conferences at all, but it is spread out, which helps. 

In order to streamline my conferences, I created a binder tailor made for it! Everything I need is right at my fingertips. No more searching, last minute note creating...waste of time conference preparations. 

This form, RIGHT HERE, is the best thing that happened to my parent/teacher conferences. It is a simple checklist with room for short comments or notes. It takes about 5 minutes to complete and says a whole lot about what is going on in and out of classroom with each student. I make a copy for each parent, so they can take notes. I also keep a copy for myself. This is what we go over at our conference.

I use these forms to inform parents when their conference is scheduled. I also try to send home a reminder note the day before the conference to cut down on any missed appointments.  I keep all my masters and copies in my conference binder in plastic sleeves. Again, easy access...all at my fingertips.

 I also document each conference with a sign in sheet. I keep a copy for myself and I turn in one to my administration. 

If a parent signs up for a conference and doesn't show up, I send home this note with their child. I don't use this form often, but I like having it ready to go if necessary.

Get your conferences started off in the right direction with this sign up form. Click on the picture below to grab your FREE copy. 

Now it is YOUR turn! Link up with us and share your parent conference tips and tricks. When we know better, we do better. Together we can make that happen! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Candy Corn FREEBIE!

Super quick post tonight. I wanted to share a fun little freebie with all of you.
We are finishing up our review of singular and plural nouns this week. I wanted a quick assessment I could use to also display in our classroom. A few minutes later these little guys were born! HA!

Each student chose a noun. The noun could be regular or irregular. Then, they wrote the plural of that same noun. 

Finally, they used the plural noun in a sentence. Some students chose to write two sentences using the singular and plural form. When they were done, they cut it out and we put them up in our classroom!
Grab a copy of this freebie activity by clicking HERE! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fall is FINALLY Here!: Scarecrows and Pumpkins OH, MY!

I am SO excited that October is finally here! It is my favorite season! The weather is still very warm here, but sweaters, boots, and scarves are on the horizon, my friends! As soon as it is humanly possible, I bring Fall into my classroom.

 Last week, I introduced acrostic poetry to my students. I started off by reading one of my favorite fall stories:
Image result for the old lady who was not afraid of anything
This got my kiddos hooked! Then I introduced how to use a thesaurus. The kids worked in pairs to come up with words that described a scarecrow. Next, we made a chart of all the words and phrases that described a scarecrow using the letters in the word. 

After we wrote our poems, it was time to build our scarecrows!

The kids took so much pride and ownership into following the directions and building the perfect scarecrow. Too darn cute! I don't have a lot of bulletin board space, so here are their scarecrow masterpieces hanging from the ceiling. You can find all the scarecrow templates and writing ideas in my Scarecrow Craftivity and Writing Prompts pack.

I also did my first directed drawing lesson of the year with my kiddos. I was looking on Pinterest and found this little gem. When I went to the website, it did not take me to the actual lesson. I hunted around, but I used the pinned picture for directions instead because I needed to make a sample before the kids came into the classroom and time was running out! 
Step 1: We used pencils to sketch the drawing step-by-step. This allowed for mistakes to be erased, since this was their first drawing of the year. Then, we used black felt tip markers to trace over our lines.

Step 2: I showed the kids how to shade using different colors of yellow and orange.

Step 3: Color the background sections using solid colors or with patterns. We used crayons this time. Oil pastels and water colors would also be great to use.

I mounted them on black paper so they would POP! Viola! I think they turned out marvelous!

I love these lessons because it forces my students to listen and follow directions. It helps them with their fine motor skills and introduces them to different types of art and art mediums. They are so proud of themselves when they are done. This will be the first piece that goes into their art portfolio for the year! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Making Math Fun!

MATH... Oh, how I love thee! I am super excited to be linking up this month with some fabulous bloggers to bring you tons of fun math strategies and games.
I love to teach math. I am always looking for new ways to engage my students and get them to embrace the new ways of the Common Core strategies and how to explain their thinking. This can be so difficult for so many students. They can tell you that 10+2=12 but they can't tell you why. Well, those days are over in my classroom! I always tell them, I don't care what your answer is, I want to know HOW you got it. PROVE IT!  

Anytime I can incorporate math and a craft, I DO IT! We just finished up our addition and subtraction strategies unit. I wanted my students to PROVE they learned the strategies I taught them. I used this little craft to bring fall into our classroom AND have them review their addition strategies. 
You can use this template to incorporate whatever math strategy your kiddos are working on at the moment. Students can show how to make 10, fact families, arrays, skip counting etc.  It just brings a bit of fun into your math lessons. The kids don't realize they are working on math and they tend to be more focused and proud of their work. 

Click the picture above to grab your {FREEBIE} copy of this activity to use with your students too.

One of my favorite math strategies, that is always a home run with my students, is to use INTERACTIVE notebooks. My students squeal with delight when we work in our interactive notebooks. I don't think they actually realize they are using their math knowledge when we are creating pages in our notebooks. 
I love the activities because they are perfect for independent practice during math centers. During center time, I always have my students review concepts I have previously taught. This gives them a chance to review and practice what they know. 

We also use our notebooks to  work on problem solving skills. Each problem solving page asks the students to identify what is being asked in the word problem, draw a picture to show their thinking, write a number sentence and the answer. However, what is MOST important about the word problem pages, is an explanation of HOW they solved the problem. I love this part because it makes my students think and explain. When they can do that, they are more likely to understand and retain the concept being taught!

Are you ready to get started with interactive notebooks? Check out this FREEBIE sampler with a few activities that will get your students engaged and excited about math. 

Now is it is YOUR turn! Link up with us! Share your math strategies and ideas with all of us. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekend Warriors Link Up: Sight Word Sensations

The Weekend Warriors are back this month in full gear! This month we are talking all about SIGHT WORDS! 

Let's face it... sight words are tricky! Kids struggle learning them and we struggle finding fun and creative ways to get our students to learn them. It doesn't matter what grade I teach, first, second, or even fourth grade....I always have students who are struggling with their sight words.

Every school year I have a group of students who know their sight words like the back of their hands. But the majority of my students struggle with them. Maybe they can read some of them, but they can't always spell them. Some are even still trying to sound them out, which we know is not possible for many reasons. They have to know them by sight, with automaticity, in order to become strong readers. 

I like to start my school year, reviewing sight words the students should know from first grade. This is a quick assessment for me. It is just one tool I use to help me gauge where my students' skill levels are when they come to me. After I test them, I give them flash cards with the words they need to still learn. I love these flash cards because they have the word written in letter boxes for the students to visually see how the word is written.  This strategy helps many of my struggling learners. 

Learning and reviewing sight words can be so dull and boring. I want my students engaged! I have created several ways of doing this. One way is to focus on a small number of words at a time. Four or five words seems to be the magic number for most of my kiddos. 

This activity helps the students recognize sight words in different fonts, sizes and shapes. Once they identify the words, the students graph how many times they saw each word. 

I also like my students to see the sight words in text. I created fluency and cloze reading passages for this reason. Students need to see the words in context, not just in isolation in order to remember, retain, and use the words correctly. 

Are you ready to use some of these activities in your classroom? Try them out for yourself. This {FREEBIE} BONUS pack of activities is just for you. 

Now it is YOUR turn! We want YOU to link up with us too! Just grab the images and monthly theme banner above and create your own blog post about how you teach and/or use sight words in your classroom. Share your ideas and join in all the sight word fun!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Classroom Sneak Peek + FREEBIES

Hello, sweet friends! I feel like I have been missing from the blogging world for a little too long. A few weeks ago my family and I were doing a little vacationing. 

We flew into Seattle and spent a couple days there being tourists and enjoyed the town. Then we took a ferry to the San Juan Islands and spent the week enjoying nature, fishing, and EATING, EATING and EATING some more delicious seafood! I tried to unplug as much as possible. As soon as we got home, it was time to start my classroom prep. So blogging has been put to the back burner until now!

I feel like I could work in my classroom ALL year, without kids, and NEVER be completely ready. I am overly organized and prepared and I still feel this way. Here is a little bit of what I have been doing in my home away from home....
 I love to make my kiddos feel special on their birthday. I created these birthday blooms to do just that. I change what I attach them to every year. I have used crazy straws, mechanical pencils, birthday pencils and more. I keep them in this pot all year. When its the student's birthday, they "pick" there birthday bloom from the pot. You can grab your copy of this FREEBIE by clicking HERE. The file is editable too!
I also have a class birthday board. Once the kids arrive I take a group picture of 
all the kids who have birthdays each month. Then I print and laminate them to have up on our birthday board all year. 
I love our Second Grade Makes Us "App"y welcome door! This is from my talented friend, Molly, at Lucky To Be In First.

I finally found black pocket charts! The heavens must be hearing me sing (cover your ears). Seriously though, I LOVE Them. I put my student "I Can" standards cards in them, so I can easily switch them out AND my administration and students will know EXACTLY what we are focusing on.
 I LOVE, LOVE, L-O-V-E my new behavior chart from Learning in Wonderland. Now, I know, behavior charts seem to be a hot topic lately, but it works for my students and I. I like how students can easily improve on their behavior and move their clips up. It provides accountability. My students fill out a behavior chart at the end of each day with the color they are on. At the end of the week, they take the chart home and have it signed. This provides parents with the information they need and cuts down on "how is my child behaving/doing in class" questions.

 I have very little wall space in my classroom, so I have to be creative and use every surface creatively. My behavior chart is on one side of my file cabinet. I love it because it dresses it up AND I can use magnetic student numbers, instead of clothespins that always seems to break during the year.
I was inspired by Amy Lemons to dress up and label my file cabinets. She has a great freebie you can download. I, however, created my own labels that are similar because I wanted the titles to fit my needs. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. 

I have prepped my first day of school treat bags. I made these labels last year for all grade levels. You can grab the labels for your classroom by heading over to my Facebook page. Click on the Freebie For Fans tab on the left side of the page.

During special activities our students wear name tags (music, art, theater etc.) until those teachers get to know the kids. I also use them if we are going to a special assembly that is interactive and the presenter would need to call on students. 

These are just a few of the little things that are helping me get the school year off right. I will give you a full room tour next week once school is underway. 

I hope each of you are enjoying what is left of your summer or have kicked off your school year with a BANG!

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