Survival and Setting

First week of school.  Soooooooooo tired but happy.  I'm seriously loving my new third grade friends this year.  It takes a while to learn a new routine, but they are catching on so quickly!

One of the things we worked on this week was setting.  Kids do really well with setting until they hit chapter books, and there are no pictures.  We talked about the ways an author shows not tells setting: through pictures, character choice, and words.  Then I read the book Big Al (love it so much!).  BUT I stuck it inside of another book so that they could not see any of the pictures.

We collected "evidence" of the setting by using the character choices the author made and the words he used.  I have written about having ACE (anchor chart envy) before.  Here's the best I've got people:

That's my fancy anchor chart.  Whatever to all you insanely awesome anchor chart makers.  You can also see the evidence sheet.  After reading Big Al and collecting evidence of the setting, we used the sheet as a class to collect evidence of the setting in the first half of First Day Jitters.  They then had their own sheet and used their readers to collect evidence for the setting in the second half of the story.  All in all, it was a good lesson!

Here's a generic form of the one the kids used independently.  You can click on it to download.

If you suffer from ACE, here are a few beautiful ones from Pinterest to drool over.
                                                                  Source: via Sylvia on Pinterest

                                                                  Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

                                                                  Source: via Gentry on Pinterest

And now, it's 9:15 on Friday night.  I'm going to bed before I fall over!!!

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A Winner, Let's Take a Little Tour, and a Word of Caution

First a winner!  The winner of my 400 Followers Giveaway (seriously how awesome????), anyway, the winner of the May Books notebook is . . .

Yea for you Claudia!  I'll send your e-mail address to the lovely people at May Books, and they'll be contacting you soon.

Today was the first day of school.  It was awesome.  I love love love the first day of school.  (No sarcasm here, I seriously love it.  It's second to Christmas in my life.)  Let's take a tour of my room, shall we?

The obligatory before shot:

Should have taken a middle of the room getting ready shot.  You know the one, where you take everything out of the cabinet, start organizing it, start another project, leave for the day, come back the next day with twelve bags from Walmart?  Yea, should have taken one of those.

Morning of the first day of school, view from the door:

Another view from the front corner.  Can you spy my teacher toolbox?:
**Yes the posters over my computer are too small for that space and too high.  That's where the VOICES board was until the day before school.  I had to hurry up and fill it with something!  It'll get fixed up.  Eventually.

Um, remember the VOICES board that I remade? Remade it again. Sigh. I made it bigger. Then, I found this pin on Pinterest and decide to make it even better.

You can be sure I will be digging through this website plenty.  This actual bulletin board was on the other side of my room where the computers were.  My district's super nice maintenance men moved it Friday to somewhere I could actually reach, and the kids could see while I taught.

My CRAFT board.  This is the world's comfiest chair by the way.  It was a glider my own parents bought for their house when my first daughter was born.

Somehow I did not get pictures of my classroom library??? Pretty plain Jane compared to a lot of them out there, but it makes me happy. I print the labels on 2x4 shipping labels and stick then on the coordinating AR color.

My teacher desk area with my small group table.  Obviously a big fan of the Ikea Flyt magazine boxes. Heard a blog rumor they are being discontinued???? Say it isn't so!

My future focus board.

Homework board and bathroom chart/job chart area.  You can see the top shelves of my library in the next two pictures, too.

Indoor recess stuff.  I have a poster with our rules.  The baskets have Webkinz, Legos, and free draw supplies.  They can play games, too.

Front of the room.  Have I mentioned how much I loooooooooove my Mimio?

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed peeking into my classroom. I'm linking up:

Now for the word of caution.  I made a lot of cute stuff for my classroom this year (if I do say so myself).  However, remember this makeover?

I love it.  But it doesn't make my laundry any cleaner than before.  Same with my classroom.  I think it's easy to get caught up in all the cute, fun ideas we see on Pinterest and other blogs.  I honestly don't think my family cares that our laundry room looks a million times better.  It makes me feel calmer when I walk in the room and walk past it a million times a day, but the laundry is still getting done the same way.  It's the same with our classrooms.  Having my room this way makes me feel calmer when a million bazillion things are happening at once.  But if it doesn't do it for you, don't bother doing it.  One of my daughter's most awesome teachers frequently looked like a bomb had gone off in her room.  She was an amazing teacher.  There's not correlation between cute rooms and awesome teaching.  So, not a cutsie pootsie teacher?  Don't sweat it.  Just keep on keepin' on with that incredible teaching you do.

Okay, off my soap box.  Have a great school year!


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Comprehension Toolkit: Instructional Strategies

Earlier this summer, I wrote about presenting on the Comprehension Toolkit at my district's Back to School Language Arts Inservice Day.  The Comprehension Toolkit is amazing.  And awesome. And fabulous.  And seriously overwhelming.  I love it, but Good Grief!  It's a lot to take in and then squeeze into 70 minutes.  It comes in a box, y'all.  Hard to cover a box worth of stuff in 70 minutes.

Anyway, whether you're ready to take on the elephant of the Comprehension Toolkit or not, they're are some amazing teaching strategies that the book uses.  Some I was more familiar with than others.  If you're curious about using the Comprehension Toolkit, try some of these lesson elements first.  You'll be amazed at what you see, and it'll help you visualize the toolkit lessons when you read them. 

Think Aloud
·This is the one we're probably most familiar with!

·"When we model how we read ourselves, we share our struggles as well as our successes, peeling back the layers of our thinking  and showing kids how we approach text and how understanding happens."

Thinking aloud is one way to make the reading process "conctrete"

Think aloud tips:
·share inferences
·model the connections we make when we read
·share the questions we have when reading
·verbalize confusing points (monitor ongoing comprehension)
demonstrate fix-up strategies

Text Coding:
·share inferences
·model the connections we make when we read
·share the questions we have when reading
·verbalize confusing points (monitor ongoing comprehension)
demonstrate fix-up strategies

R = it reminds me of
t-s = text to self
t-t = text to text
t-w = text to world
L = new learning
BK = background knowledge
G = gist
(there should be a lightbulb here but Blogger refuses to acknowledge it)=
new learning
E = evidence
? = question

Text Lifting for Shared Reading:
·Instructional practice to help students become aware of their thinking and increase comprehension
·When you take (lift) a piece of text, give everyone a copy,  and practice a strategy together

Text Lifting Model
·Gather students near projector
·Show a piece of text, hand out a copy to each student (student has clipboard)
·Model thinking as you read
·Invite kids to share their thinking
·Encourage discussion among kids
·Turn and talk
·Kids continue in pairs/small groups
·Teacher moves around room, checking in with groups to assess

Anchor Charts
Use anchor charts to record kids' thinking about a text, lessor, or strategy so that we can return to it to remember the process.

·Strategy Charts: Record kids' questions, inferences, connections, etc.
·Process Charts: Kids share their insights about particular strategies, appraising their helpfulness as a comprehension aid.  "Yes, this strategy was helpful because . . . ," "No, this strategy was not helpful because . . . "
·Content Charts: Record interesting/important content-based information that kids discover during a content area study.

Interactive Read Alouds
·In an interactive read aloud, the teacher reads the text and guides the discussion while the students listen, talk to each other, and jot down their thinking.
·Can be strategy-specific or overall inner coversation

All kids are free to listen and think about the ideas in the text because decoding does not interfere

Interactive Read Aloud Model
·Modeling: build background knowledge, share inner conversation, stop and record thinking
·Guided Practice: Have kids turn and talk about their own t hinking, jot down inner thinking
·Continue Modeling/guided practice alternation
·Guided Discussion: After finishing text, kids move into groups and talk using their post its to feed discussion

Taking thinking public: After discussion, come back together as a group and share ideas from discussions.  Record these thoughts on an anchor chart.

Purposeful Talk Model
Conversation deepens understanding. 
In an active literacy program, we increase the amount of time that kids spend talking to each other to increase understanding of :
·important issues

Types of Purposeful Talk
·Turn and talk
·small invitational groups
·paired reading
·small and large group shares

**Teach kids HOW to share!  "Since discussion is the learning heartbeat of our classrooms, we make a point of emphasizing and demonstrating polite ways of talking with each other.

Guided Discussion
·If we want kids to think deeply about their reading, we have to provide text they can sink their teeth into and then give them opportunities to talk about it. 
·Guide kids' comments to focus on central questions, important ideas, and issues raised in their reading.  Whenever possible, build on and extend th ekids' thinking to move the discussion along.

·Provides a place for students to record their own responses and opinions.
·This type of notetaking on graphic organizers helps readers understand and remember what they read (FQRs, Facts/Inferences, What I Learned/What I Wonder)

What they do:
·Promote enganed, active reading
·Help students sort out information
·Value student thinking
·provide a better opportunity for lasting learning
replace mindless note-taking practices with a more thoughtful practice that gives students a good shot at understanding the information.

Whew!  That's a lot and it's not even what the Comprehension Toolkit is.  I am loving the fact that the toolkit is a great resource for the giant canyon between "teaching" kids a strategy and them actually being able to use it.  Anybody else loving on the Comprehension Toolkit?

I started a Pinterest board the toolkit here:

I made it a collaborative board and invited some other teachers in my district to join me.  If you'd like to join in, e-mail me the address you use for Pinterest, and I'll add you on.  The more the merrier!

And do not forget this business:
I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

Click on the the giveaway button to enter to win something fun from May Books!


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Monday Made It

I think everyone that's visited my blog at least once has caught on to the fact that I'm just slightly Type A.  This week's Monday Made only proves it even more.  Oh well, I celebrate it.

On with the Monday Made Its!

First, I found this on Pinterest:

Awesome, right?
I loved it.  I loved it a lot.  Unfortunately, it meant I had to remake the VOICES board I downloaded from Kristen at Ladybug's Teach Files that I'd already remade.  Twice.  Anyway, it wasn't too much trouble, and I think it turned out nicely.  See:

Now for a close up:

Normally, I'd put it on here to share, but since it's almost a complete copycat of Kristen's work, I don't want to step on her bloggy toes since she's so sweet to share her good ideas and hard work!

Then it was time to address my magnet situation.  I needed numbered magnets for my jobs chart and my bathroom chart.  I actually had magnets that matched perfectly for my restroom but some had gone missing over the years.  Here's a refresher on those two charts:

And here are my magnets!  They turned out soooooo super cute.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

A word of caution-I originally saw this on Pinterest.  The pin said you could use those vase filler thingies.  Not a good idea if you have even a slight twinge of perfectionism in your blood.  They're not clear, and they're not round.  Just go ahead, get online, and order glass cabochons.  I ordered mine from Sun and Moon Craft Kits.  They're 20 ¢ each or $3.25 for a pack of 20.  It's worth it.  Moving on. Here's what you need for the project:
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Magnets, clear drying craft glue, cabochons, magnets, a 3/4 inch circle punch (pay the $3.99, it'll save your hand), and the paper.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Punch out your circles.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Glue your circles onto the cabochons.  I love saying that word.  Just a dab of glue will do ya.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Glue you cabochons onto the magnets and voila!

I tried 3 times to get a picture without my foot in it but was unsuccessful.  

I love these magnets!!

And now, here's a real life action shot:

You could also do something easier that I saw on Miss R's blog AFTER I made my magnets.  She made cute magnets with bottle caps she bought at Hobby Lobby.  I was reading a post on her blog and a linked within box with these thingies was below it.  It's like the magnet gods were taunting me.

Raise your hand if this sounds easier.  Yep, me too.

Finally, I was inspired by this picture from the Silhouette Blog:

I loved loved loved it!  So I whipped out my Silhouette and got busy.

AND! Check back tomorrow because something very special happened today.  I reached 400 followers!! Which means:

I'm so excited!!!  Now, go on over to Fourth Grade Frolics and see what Tara and all the other teachers in blogland are up to!


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Made It Monday, and I Lied!

So last time I posted a Monday Made It, I said it would be my last.  Well, I lied.  I couldn't help myself!  Sorry.

There's a story behind my first Monday Made It item.  I have been craving an Erin Condren lesson planner.  But I haven't ordered one, for two reasons.

1.  Money
I don't mind a splurge, but remember this makeover?

Well, it wasn't free.  Also, I have spent a ton of money shopping lately.  The short version is, we moved to Texas three years against my will (job transfer for my husband, great for our family, me, not so much) and I was sad.  And I gained 20 sad pounds.  So this summer I lost ten of those pounds.  And I've been having waaaay too much fun buying 10 pounds lighter clothes.

2.  I'm lazy
Yes, Erin Condren planner I love you sooooooo much.  But, I'd have to write each subject in and my duties and all the other stuff I put in my own lesson planner template.  Sigh.

So, I made my own inspired lesson planner pages, and I love them.

I also made a year at a glance set of pages.

I'm really happy with how they turned out.  I was able to give myself the space I needed for each subject and have it exactly how I wanted.  Erin Condren fabulous? No, but I'm happy with it.

Not just my lesson plans got prettied up.  I made these curtains for my shelves.  All sorts of junk that I don't want to look at is hiding back there.  They look black, but their really brown and white polka dots.  Happy!

I also made a class blog to replace my class website.  Why, you ask?  Well, several reasons.  I have always done a class newsletter to e-mail out because most people don't check the website.  Then e-mail addresses change, one parent is on, one isn't, sometimes I forget to attach the newsletter to the e-mail, blah, blah, blah.  Then I'd have to update the same information on my website.  No more!

See that follow by e-mail spot?  Parents can sign up to receive the updates, and I don't have to worry about it.  Yea!  I did consider a Wordpress blog because it can be password protected, but in the end, I didn't want to learn a new platform.  I did find a way to password protect in Blogger, but it takes extra steps for every single post.  I'm going to password protect the class pictures page and call it good.

These two bulletin boards were almost the death of me.  At the very least, they were the death of my Sunday.

See, lovely Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files made these incredible CRAFT and VOICES bulletin boards.  And because she's awesome, she gave them away for free.  Yea!  So I downloaded them, printed them, cut them out, and started putting them up.  Only, MY BOARD WAS TOO SMALL.  Yes, I'm yelling.  I almost cried when I realized that.  But I really loved the idea of having them, so I remade them on my own.  It took forever, but it's done.  And now that they're up I think I'm going to be able to move the VOICES board to a larger bulletin board, defeating the entire purpose of one remake.  Yea me.

I'm usually all about the sharing, but since this is not even close to my own idea and an almost total copycat, I don't feel good about it.  You should just go visit Kristen and download her fabulousness.

On the home front, um, I made some clean laundry?  I'm in full on school mode, so nothing pretty is happening around my house.  I bathe.  The kids are clean.  That's about all.

Go visit Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics to see what she and everyone else has been up to for this week's Made it Monday.

I realize my post is way too wordy, but that's me in a nutshell.  Deepest sympathies to my husband.  Seriously, y'all.  My husband uses 5 words when 10 would do.  I use 100 when 10 would do.  But we must always remember:

Hope you had a productive day!

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