Five on the Fifth

Hey, hey! Welcome back.  November's gone (how in the heck did that happen?), and it's time for me to share five awesome postsfrom the past month from five awesome bloggers.  Want more great posts?  Check out the Five on the Fifth Pinterest board.
I'm a few days late because I've been busy giving away 20 TPT gift cards for my 3,000 follower giveaway!  You have until Wednesday night to enter.
Weekly goal sharing? This awesomeness if from Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts.  She's a blogging/teaching genius with a super cute new blog design.  {Wink. Wink.}  Life is kind of just happening to our kids.  I love that this pulls them into the learning process in an empowering way.

I'm pretty much in love with everything Jen Jones creates.  These strategy cards are no exception.  There are lots of vague, touchy-feely types of professional texts on teaching reading.  I love when someone shows me what it should look like.

I looooooove this problem and solution lesson and extension from One Extra Degree.  She's one smart teacher who likes to get her kids THINKING about what they are reading.  When you visit Amanda's post, just keep scrolling through her blog for some more thinking about reading genius moments.

Yes, please! Yes! Yes! Yes!  Everyone needs this post from Dixie at Teachin' Little Texans.  Because there's always one kid.

And speaking of connecting . . . . Are academics important?  Absolutely.  But creating a community of learners is vital to the success of the classroom.  I love this post written by Kim from Practical Primary Ideas on her Friday Circle.

Elf on the Shelf and Kindness in the Classroom

Happy December to you!  I'm so excited December is here!  I love Christmas, I love reflecting on the year, and I love having a long holiday from school.  Amen, y'all.

I wrote a post a loooooong time ago about how I use my Elf on the Shelf in the classroom.  There are a lot of new people around this blog these days (woohoo!), so I thought it was worth writing about again.  He does fun and kookie stuff, but this is why I really love him:
I put this up in my classroom.  I had it printed on an 11x17 piece of glossy card stock at Office Max for about $1.50 and laminated it.

Throughout the day, kids can write about something kind they observed a classmate doing.  Franklin takes the notes each night to the North Pole.  You know-just in case Santa missed something.

Here's a picture from a previous year:
This year, since I am only working with small groups, this is going to be part of our warm up.  You can download this freebie (regular and large versions) for free here.  You'll need to download the font for the elf's name, or just use another font you like.

We'll have fun with our elf this year, but I love having him as part of our classroom to take the emphasis off of getting and on to others.
{Yes-one year they made cards for Franklin.}

Want more holiday goodness? I posted about my favorite holiday writing activity over on the Owl-Ways Be Inspired blog today!

The Warm Up Conundrum

Sounds like an epidsode of The Big Bang Theory, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as funny as Sheldon and the gang.
Anyway, warmups.  The fact is, there are lots of great warmups out there.  In fact, you could spend all day on warmups.  Doing the warm up, peer checking the warmup, reviewing the warmup, grading the warmup.  You could warmup All. Day. Long.  But then, nobody would ever learn anything.

So many warmups, so little time! Take a step back to make sure you're making the most of your minutes.

There are grammar warm ups, reading warm ups, vocabulary warmups, fluency warmups, phonics warmups, social studies warmups, math warmups, math fact warmups, science warmups.  I think Evan Moore has a daily review for every single thing you could think of:
Sweet mercy, please don't do all of these to your students.

This really hit me, when I moved to 4th grade and was compartmentalized.  I had 2 hours to teach reading, writing, grammar, and spelling and work in some independent reading time and learning stations.  Every minute counted.

I couldn't wrap my head around it until I ignored minutes and started thinking about percentages.  What percentage of my time should be dedicated to reading? Writing? Independent reading? Word study? It was a break through moment for me.  It also made me realize I had very little time to dedicate to warming up.

Now that I'm working with small groups, I'm limited to a 30 minute time slot (it's really about 25 minutes because getting all of my friends collected is like herding cats sometimes.  And sometimes little people really, really, really need to tell you about the tooth they just lost.)  I can't spend half of it warming up.  Their teachers let them away from precious instructional minutes, so I need every minute to count.

I found out about this FREE resource by Whole Brain Teaching from Amanda at Teaching Maddeness.  There are two levels, Super Speed 100 and Super Speed 1000.  I love them.  It takes us about 2 1/2 minutes for fluency practice that focuses on the most common words.
Then, we work on a very fast Phonics review.  We practice a phonics skill for about 1 minute.  Next, I have them apply it by spelling nonsense words.  Let's be honest, if you show 2nd graders and up a picture of a cat and have them circle the correct spelling "cat" or "cut", they can get it right.  They have seen that word a million times, but they still probably don't know the short a sound.  Nonsense words force them to think about sounds.

After that, it's on to our guided reading group.  We reread something from the previous day to practice reading fluently.  This is quickly and with whisper phones.

Every elementary teacher on the planet needs whisper phones.
I was lucky enough to get mine from Lakeshore during a sale for $1.99 each.  Since every group uses them, I wipe them down with Clorox wipes between uses.  Because ewwww.

Then, it's off to the races and we're learning, learning, learning.

Don't want to let go of your warmups?  Don't.  Just consider rotating through them monthly or quarterly.  It's not that warmups aren't valuable (they certainly are!), the reality is there's just never enough time in the day.   As my groups have finished Super Speed 1000, we're moving on to Jennifer Jones picture of the day inferencing lessons (GREAT post here from her on that).  We'll do that for awhile and move on to something else.

Got any great warm up tips to share?

Five on the Fifth {and a few}

Hey hey!  I've had this post planned for several days, but it's turned into 5 on the 5th + 5 days.
Here's a little truth.  The juggle is hard.  The momma, wife, teacher, blogger, TPTer, blog designer juggle is no joke.  But let's be honest, the first two jobs are the most important. So, sometimes the blog gets schlepped to the side.  But, I'm back on track with five fabulous posts from five fabulous bloggers. Want more Five on the Fifth?  Check out the Pinterest board to see previous posts.
Another truth for you: I'm a bit of a Jivey stalker.  I can feel a new hashtag coming on, #jivestalking.  This post popped up at a great time.  I'd uttered the words, "Let's underline what's most important," to one of my small groups, and a friend underlined EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.  Jivey can help you with that.

I loooooooooooove math games.  All the math games.  Best teacher thing about math games?  Friends can't lean over to peek at a neighbor because it just won't help.  They have to resort to thinking.  Molly from Lucky to be in First has a great post on some math games for the younger crowd.

Got just one iPad in your room?  After that SQUEAL! iPad moment, did you wonder what in the heck you were going to do with one iPad and 20+ kids?  Jamie from Second Grade Stuff has a great post on using one iPad in the classroom.

I got a chance to meet Amber from Peppy Zesty Teacherista at the Dallas blogger meet up, and she is all kinds of fun.  I love this human number line she wrote about.

I am LOVING Jessica's newspaper station.  Hop on over to her blog, The Teacher Talk, to find out how she set it up and all the details of this great idea.

Hope your October was rockin' and your November is even better!

October Favorites

Hey hey! November is here, so it's time for me to share some of last month's favorites with you.
This sweatshirt from Loft is a dream.  Mainly because it looks waaaaay too nice to be a sweatshirt, and people will say things like, "Wow! I love your beautiful sweater."  And you will be all, "Oh thank you!" But inside you'll be laughing because it's a sweatshirt, and you are winning.
p.s.  That is a true story.

Good grief.  This show is awesome.  My brother-in-law told me about it.  Season 1 was on Netflix, and I like to have something playing while I watch Netflix, so why not?  I gave it a try not expecting much, and ended up flying through season 1 and the few episodes of this season, so no I have to watch weekly like a regular person.  Boo.
I don't think it will surprise anyone that I'm obsessed with another pair of Tieks.  But oh my soft leather goodness, the color of my new merlot Tieks is perfection.  I love them.  I may have pet them for a little while when they first came in.
Oh lunch.  We can be friends again.  This is a local company that delivers lunches to businesses.  Each lunch is under 500 calories, but she also has a "comfort food" menu for when you're looking to fall off the wagon.  You just have to order by 5:00 the day before, and your lunch shows up the next day with everything you need to enjoy it.

I am in love with this song right now.  My dad, older daughter, and I got to go to a Francesca Battistelli concert recently, and she sang this song.  Girl mom's-your daughters' need this song.  It's fun to blast in the car and sing along with, and it has an amazing message.

In case you were here looking for teacher stuff, I did post something educational yesterday at Owl-Ways Be Inspired.
Happy November!

Five on the Fifth

Hey y'all! It's October 5th, which means it's time for Five on the Fifth again.  
There are so many great blogs out there, and let's be honest, September is a bit of a blur for teachers.  Here are five great posts that you might have missed in that back to school haze.  There's even a Five on the Fifth Pinterest board if you want to see more great ideas.
First up is the first in a series from Teaching Maddeness called Maximizing the Minutes.  Amanda shares how she very quickly reviews high frequency words and reviews skills in a fast warm up.  Every minutes counts and this series will help you do just that!
Melissa from Inspire Me, ASAP! has a great fact and opinion lesson (that would also be great for inferencing!)  She practiced with this photo, and then connected the lesson to a mentor text.  Hop on over to read just how she did this.
I love how Ashleigh from Ashleigh's Education Journey got her kids working on multiplication word problems.  Engaging, higher level thinking, and low prep.  Everything you want for a great lesson!

Holy smokes this is a good blog post.  Cara from The First Grade Parade dives down deep into the guts of small group instruction.  It's a loooong post and worth every minute  you'll spend reading it.
One more reading lesson for you! This time for the upper elementary crowd.  Jen from Hello Mrs. Sykes shares some great tips for supporting struggling readers.

Bonus! Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher shared this super cute freebie at Owl-Ways be Inspired.  Hope you have a fang-tastic day today!