Survival Part 1

7 more days! Wheeeeee!

This week is a tricky week.  School's not out yet.  We've got to keep some school going without sending the kids into revolt.  I've got a two part plan for this.  It's academic, but the kids are willing to do it.  Even happily.

Part 1 is Parts of Speech Week.  Sounds exciting, doesn't it?  The kids pretty much give me a blank stare when I announce this excitedly.

Each day gets a part of speech: nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs.  We start the day off with a book or two by Brian Cleary.  Love his books!

Then, we move on to Grammaropolis.
I love Grammaropolis.  If you have not been on this site, you are seriously missing out.  Grammaropolis takes you through each of the eight parts of speech with songs, videos, and instructions.  It's seriously genius.  And teachers get a free subscription.  Fuh-ree.  You can view the noun neighborhood of Grammaropolis without a log in.  Go visit Grammaropolis now.  And take your students with you.  (They have a way cool iPad app, too)

After taking a stroll though Grammaropolis, they're free to visit other websites with games focusing on that parts of speech.  I put them all together here to make it easier.

Finally, we top it all off with Pendemonium.  What's that?  You've never heard of Pendemonium?  It's an awesome series on Discovery Education.  There are 12 different videos each about 23 minutes long. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, capitalization, prefixes/suffixes/root words, you name it.

You could also add in word sorts, practice sheets and art projects.  Whatever it takes to make it!

Good luck!

End of the Year Gifts

Eight more days!  The end of the year is so close I can smell it.  Well, that smell may actually be the kids after they've played at recess.  It's already hitting 90 here.  There will be no more shoes off afternoons.  I can promise you that.

I've got my girls' teacher gifts ready for the end of the year.  Their classes collected for gift cards.  We always put in money for that, but they like to bring something too.

I made the tags with my Silhouette and ordered the koozies from my Etsy shop.  You can download a jpeg of the tag here.  Open it up, add a signature, and you're good to go!

Stuck for ideas?  Here are some easy peasy end of the year gift ideas:

All pictures are linked to their original sources, so hop on over and steal borrow some good ideas!

Find me 10 teachers, and I promise 9 of them love coffee.
All 10 will love cookies.

We haul a lot of junk around (it doesn't always make it from the car to the house, but we try, right?)  Might as well look cute while you do it.

Cute school supplies.  Drool.

You can find tons of cute self-inking stamps online.  Lots of options on Etsy!
I am obsessed with May Books.  Organization + Cuteness = Teacher Nirvana

Fun cups and lemonade.  Sweet and practical.

Hope you have a happy end of the school year!  What are your favorite gifts?

Organizational Love

An organization linky.  Sigh.

What more do I need to make my OCD heart go pitter patter?  I'm not sure I'll rock anybody's world with these, but here are a few of my organizational life rules.

Rule #1 Plan for paper
Paper is a teacher's worst enemy.  Plan for how you're going to stay on top of it, or it will swallow you alive.

Where will kids turn their work in?

Where will you organize the copies you've made?

Where will you store assessments, benchmarks, and the 8,692 other pieces of paper you're required to hold onto?

Rule #2 Make it blend in
I love bright colors as much as the next gal, but there's a lot to be said for monochrome.  It makes things just blend right in.

Rule #3 Have a place to hide
Everything behind these curtains is neatly organized, but it's still not pretty to look at.  These curtains make it all go away.

Rule #4 Keep those odds and ends under control
If you were reading teacher blogs last summer, you would have seen this a million times.  And you know why?  This was awesome.  I wrote a whole post about it here.

So that's it for my organizational tidbits, but you can get plenty more! Go visit Kristin and Elizabeth to see all the great ideas out there in blogland!

Teaching Theme

So this is a limbo time of year.  We have 13 days of school left.  The kids should still be learning, but there's a fine line to walk.  If you try to go full school, they'll turn on you and rebel.  If you try to go all woohoo, school's almost out, they'll turn into wild monkeys and swing from the ceiling.  Which I cannot handle for 13 days.

So, I call this my time of year my "give a little, get a little" time.  You keep giving me some work and calm behavior, and I'll back off some in the school department.

Which brings us to theme, somehow.

Anyway, theme is hard.  Kids don't get it.  It's not easy to teach.  Perfect for the end of the year, right?  It is when you bring Patricia Polacco into the mix.  Sigh.  Love her.  We started off by reading My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother and making this amazing anchor chart.

What do you do when you run out of chart paper?  Use the cardboard backing of course.

We are spending four days in small groups.  Each day, each group reads a different book.  I ordered these from Scholastic.

I enlarged this very fancy organizer onto 11x17 paper.  After reading the book independently, they meet in their groups to discuss the book and fill out the organizer.  If they have extra time, they're writing a Somebody/Wanted/But/So/Then summary chart on the back.  (Random-They are completely willing to write a summary chart.  Summary paragraph? No.  Chart? Yes.  Whatever, it's a summary.)

I have a pile of Patricia Polacco books (thanks Ebay!).  On the fifth day, they'll chose a book and complete the organizer and a summary chart by themselves.  I don't have enough books for everyone, so we'll be juggling that and independent reading.

If your school subscribes to United Streaming/Discovery Education (how many years and I still can't get used to it???), there are two Patricia Polacco Reading Rainbows: Applemando's Dreams and Rechenka's Eggs.  Love me some Reading Rainbow.

We're reading, we're learning, we're talking, and I may be getting some paperwork done during all this.  What more can you want for the end of the year?

Writing Lists

This was a fun writing lesson that we did for Mother's Day.  It could work well for anytime of the year, though, and I think it would be a super fun end of the year lesson.

Their Mother's Day gifts were the top ten reasons their mom was the best.  So very sweet.  They started off by brainstorming special things about their mom.  The only rule was that it could not be something their mom bought for them.

We thought about special times together, birthday traditions, how they care for us when we're sick, etc.

The next step was to write it.  This is a great time to teach kids about rearranging sentences.  Otherwise, all of your sentences will start with "she" or "my mom."

When I taught fourth grade, we used Glogster for our final copies.

This year, we had just recently learned to use Open Office.  They were very comfortable using it, so we just went with that.  Here's one sweet kiddo's list:

It was a wonderful Mother's Day gift, but I think it would make a great end of the year reflection, too.  13 more days, but who's counting, right?

Monday Made It

Happy Monday to you!  It's a little easier to be happy on Monday when there are only 17 days of school left.  I have some fun projects to share for this month's round of Monday Made It.

First up, my number one, go to gift.
This was my Mothers' Day gift for my sweet momma.  I give these out like candy.  Christmas, weddings, house warnings, you name it.  When I asked my mom if she had any ideas for Mothers' Day she told me she wanted one of those dishes I'd given out to everybody and their best friend.  Oops.  Left my mom out of the loop.

I resolved that little oversight on Sunday.  I used my Silhouette and etching cream to do this.  It's easy but looks super fancy.

I made this print for my sister.  I framed it and gave it to her for Mother's Day also.

I used my Silhouette {again} to make these super cute tags for my own kids' teachers during teachers' appreciation week.
I did NOT make the cookies.  I know where my talents end.

And for the classroom, I am coasting into summer.  I am relying on all you other hard working people to sell your end of the year stuff on TPT, so we have something fun to do.  I did make these super cute chalkboard tags though:
I am obsessed with all things chalkboard right now.  There will be more chalkboard.  Believe it.  Funny that everyone was desperate to get rid of their chalkboards and now we want to decorate with it.

Now hop on over to 4th Grade Frolics to find out what everybody else got done this month!

Introducing Expository Writing

Enough to strike fear in your heart?  Here's an easy way to slide your kids into expository writing.  Our kiddos have an expository essay as part of their state writing test in fourth grade.  I figure if I can help my kids get the basics of this down (instead of sending them to fourth grade with an "expository, say what?"), the fourth grade teachers at my school will worship the ground I walk on.
Great tips for getting started teaching expository writing to your third and fourth graders.

I modeled every step of the way using our school nurse as my example.  This type of writing was very new for my kids, so I had them work in groups.  (Sidenote-They all freaked out when I said the word essay.)

Day 1: Choose your central idea and support
(Yes, I should have taken pictures along the way.  The highlighted parts show day 1.)

I gave each group a 12x18 piece of construction paper that was folded into four sections.  They had to write their central idea and three meaning reasons to support it.

You will have to have a conversation about why "She is nice" is not meaningful support.  I told my students that our nurse had long hair, was from Kansas, and was nice, but that had nothing to do with why she was important to our school.

Day 2: Plan your support
I showed them three ways to write about their reasons:
•What ifs (what if that person wasn't at our school? What would happen?)
•Personal experience

We planned how we would support each reason.

Day 3: Time to write!
Needless to say, writing their paragraphs was a breeze after all that planning.  Each kid in the group chose a reason to turn into a paragraph, and they whipped out an expository essay in no time.

I was so happy with how these lessons went.  Each day my room was loud, but it was the GOOD kind of loud.  Kids talking and planning and discussing writing!  Swoon.

Five on the Fifth

It's time for Five on the Fifth!

If you're new around here, these posts show off the heart of teaching blogs-the sharing of really great ideas.  Five on the Fifth even has its very own Pinterest board.  You can follow it here.

Raise your hand if you think Mentor Sentences help kids learn grammar and punctuation in a more useful and authentic way.

Now, raise your hand if you're not really sure what in the world to do with Mentor Sentences.

Okay, if you raised your hand both times, you are in luck.  Ideas by Jivey and Collaboration Cuties teamed up to take your through mentor sentences.  They've figured it out for you.  Thanks, ladies!
Ideas By Jivey
Collaboration Cuties

This picture from Teach n' Tex says it all.
Kristin will walk you through not having all that junk hanging around your screen the next time you're on YouTube with your class.  Cause you know that kid in that back that never pays attention?  He will today.

This next post is from Brandee at Creating Life Long Learners.  On Fridays, she has a wrap it up time-time to get caught up on your work.  Good plan.  Even better?  Get your work done on time, and instead of wrap it up time, you could be doing something fun.  And educational.  At the same time.  Nice.

A Screaming Good Summary.  How stinking cute is this?  Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory came up with this fabulous summary writing lesson.
How much would your class love to do this?  Enough to write a decent summary?  I definitely think so!

And finally, the last idea is from a brand new blogger.  This girl's got two followers, and I'm already blown away by this idea for solar system art.  Love!!!
Go visit Angie at Teaching with Class to see how she did this with her class.

That's all for this round.  Hope you found some ideas you can take back to your classroom!