Sunday, August 2, 2015

Reading Response Tasks {I'm Talking to You, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Teachers!}

We've done RRJs {Reading Response Journals} for a few years as homework.  Students read at home and respond to their reading in a composition book.

I LOVE RRJs.  They help students develop their writing skills.  They help me get a glimpse into students' comprehension.  We've used a simple set-up for a few years... in the beginning of the year, students do practice RRJs in class on half sheets of paper.  They glue them in their RRJ so they have an example to refer to as needed.

Then, students begin responding on their own.  They read and then summarize, predict, visualize, or respond to a question of their choosing.  The questions are Common Core based... "What is the lesson?  How do you know?" type of question.

Students have a reading log in the front that they fill in each night.  You can click the big pic to check out the pack I have been using for the last three years.
But, this year, my whole school {grades 3-5} is switching to a more focused Common Core connected RRJ.  Students will complete a task for whatever the standard is that we are working on in class.

We're still using composition books and students will still do RRJs as part of nightly homework {though these would be GREAT for in class work too... accountability during reading workshop!} and students will still respond to the book they have chosen to read... but, now, our RRJs look like this:

Students have three tasks to complete during the week.  My scheduling for RRJs has been very rigid in the past but, this year, I'm going to allow students to complete these as their leisure as long as it is turned in by Friday morning.  I'm hoping this will help families complete homework around their schedule.

So... each standard has one of these pages.  Kid-friendly "I can" statement at the top, a graphic organizer, and (usually) 2 more tasks with the 3rd one being the one that is graded.  A kid/parent-friendly rubric is included so that everyone knows exactly what is expected for the 3rd task.

The first task is always completed on this page- which will be glued in on the lefthand side of a composition notebook.

Tasks 2 and 3 are to be completed on the opposite page on the right...

I'm really excited to see students extend their in-class practice and get better at the standards!

These packs are available in my TpT store for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades!  Each one also includes an editable PowerPoint with NO rubrics so you can add your own if you would like!


So, if you're looking for your students to respond to reading in a way that directly connects with what you are working on in class, these might be for you!  Thanks to my colleagues for their input and Beth Wright, my school interventionist, for her collaboration on these too!  We're all excited to implement these!

Aaaaaand... you can get them for over 20% off during the TpT BTS sale, August 3rd and 4th!  My store is 20% off AND you can use the promo code BTS15 for 10% off of that at checkout!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Classroom Meeting Place

One of my favorite spots in my classroom is our meeting place.

This is where we have morning meeting and I teach all of the mini-lessons for Daily Five.

The library is back here, as well as the board where we display our spelling words, vocabulary words, CAFE strategies, Homework Club, and check out system for classroom library books.

Students love grabbing a pillow and lounging back here to read too!

During morning meeting, all 30 of us will squeeze into a circle back here to do a greeting and a quick activity.  It's one of my favorite ways to build classroom community as well as work on social skills.  I'm sad to say that, the past two years, we've stopped doing morning meeting about 3 months into the year just because of busy schedules... this year it's one of my goals to continue morning meeting all year!

I sit in the wooden chair for mini-lessons and use the easel.  Students have assigned spots on the carpet which makes it insanely easy to transition back to our carpet area for mini-lessons!

So, there you have it!  A quick peek at our meeting area!

Want to learn more about morning meeting?  Check out my class website!

What do you do at your meeting area?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Exciting Update on "Partner Plays" Bundle!!!!!!!! {and a SUPER cute freebie!}

I have been having SO much fun working on these partner play fluency packs!

I posted a growing bundle on TpT that was going to stop after six sets... well, I've decided to grow the bundle until it has TEN sets in it!!!!!!  That will be FIFTY partner plays!!!!

There are currently seven sets...

Winter, spring, summer, fall, fairy tales, and science...

That's where the bundle was scheduled to stop.

But I'm having too much fun!

So, I've added "Author Interviews" to the pack and will be adding two more sets of interview plays, as well as a set that is TBD- if you have ideas, leave in the comments!

Here's what I did with mine:

All are laminated with covers on top... I hole punched each set and put a 1-inch binder ring in the top. This way, pairs can grab a set and get to reading!

I'm doing an insect theme for summer school, so I copied "Caterpillar and Butterfly"(from the science pack) at school... and it printed well in black and white!  I'm going to have students pair up to do the plays and then take them home to do with family!  I think they will enjoy that!

So, there you have it!  Exciting announcement about the bundle!  If you've already purchased it, please check out the new plays inside!  If you haven't... there's still time before it reaches full price when all plays are added!

And now... for your super cute freebie.

Like, seriously, the cutest thing EVER.  Please let me know what you think with some feedback!

Use these "Pair Up Partner" cards to pair up your kiddos for anything... maybe even a little partner play reading!!!!!

Happy Thursday!  Be sure to check out my partner plays... remember... growing bundle will have THIRTY by September 1st!  Just click the pic!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Classroom Library Rant

I apologize now if my post makes anyone mad at me... I hope to just put something out there to think about.  I've blogged about this before because I'm super passionate about it!  So, if you've been a follower for a while, it may sound familiar.

Classroom libraries.

My school uses AR, which I have a love/hate relationship with anyway.

When I started out as a teacher, I had my library organized by AR color.

It was super easy.

I bought white baskets.  I bought spray paint.  I laid the baskets out across my driveway and spray painted them.


Then I put all the books at "level yellow" in the yellow basket and so on.

The books all had colored dots that correlated to the color of the basket.

SO easy!  Easy to organize.  Easy for the kids to put them away.  And easy for the kids to know right away who was always having to go to the yellow basket because they weren't "good enough" at reading to be in red, where most of my kiddos were at the end of 2nd grade.

Also, very easy to teach kids that the only thing we need to consider when choosing a book to read is the level it is written at.

I started hearing kids policing each other about what color they should be reading based on which basket they were hovering around.

And kids not caring about what they were reading... as long as it was in their color basket.

I had a lightbulb moment.

I wasn't teaching my kiddos (2nd graders at that time) to love reading... I was teaching them to read words on a page, regardless of their interest, because the book was deemed to be "their color".

So, I re-organized my library.

I made baskets about interests or with books written by a certain author or about certain topics or characters.

Within each basket, the reading levels are all mixed up.

My students have to think about what they want to read first.  Then, what is appropriate for their reading level, is second.

It's still easy to organize.  My baskets are all numbered and each book has a sticker with the corresponding number.  All Captain Underpants books are in basket 20.  All books about math ideas are in 35.  Science books are in 18.  Animal books are in 17... I LOVE seeing them get excited about all of the baskets in my library.  I love that they look through baskets together.  They see books their friends might enjoy and they talk about them.

I love that they have to be aware of what is appropriate reading material for their individual abilities... but they don't have to base their decisions around that idea!  When I choose books for myself, I don't always choose things at my level... and I gravitate toward my interests first, of course!

I believe that this change has helped my students be more aware of WHY we read and has helped develop an enjoyment for reading... of course it helps that my library is HUGE with a wide variety of reading materials!  It's my pride and joy and the thing I poured the most money into when I was getting it up and running!

So, what do you think?  How is your library organized?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Partner Reading Plays {You Can Win!}

I've been busy this weekend working on some short plays that will be just PERFECT for my partner reading station, which I blogged about last week.  {Click the pic to check out the old post.}

Here are the packs I've created so far!  {Summer AND Interview with Favorite Authors are also done and in the bundle!}

With plans for a spring and summer pack, I've decided to bundle these together into a GROWING BUNDLE!  It is currently $18.00, but will be $27.00 when it's done.  It will have FIFTY plays in all... that's enough to do one a week!

You can win ALL of them!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below and I'll select a winner to receive ALL of the partner plays I've created so far... that's TWENTY plays and a $12 value!  Perfect for grades 2 and 3!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me Linky!

This is too fun!  Thanks to Mrs. Lamb for hosting!  Hurry and link up!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Writing Center Reveal {and freebie!}

I am SO excited about my writing center for this year!!!!!!!!!!

I love it!!!!!!!

This bookshelf is on the floor to the left of the table.  It contains all sort of things for creative writing.

On the bulletin board, the red papers are actually in sheet protectors that are stapled to the board. This will allow me to quickly slide in new pages... I have papers from my opinion unit up now because that's the first writing unit we will do in 3rd grade.  I think I will also put up student examples too!

I am particularly psyched about this little guy...

It's an organizer I got at Target in the $3 spot.  The first six items are flashcards that I also got from Target in the $1 spot.  I made a cute cover for the flashcards with some directions- "Read a card.  Write about what you learn", hole punched the cards, and put together with a binder ring!

The bottom three (animals, transportation, and sports records) are flashcards that are not from the $1 spot at Target.

Sooooo... if you want to make a little organizer like this using the flashcards you picked up from Target, you can click the pic below to download the six covers!  I bought the word family flashcards (for the rhyming set), outer space, presidents, flags of the world, insects, and United States.

I'd LOVE to see how you organize these if you download the freebie and would also love to know if you love it too!  So, let me know what you think!

Items I have made that are being used in the writing center pic at the top:

My other favorite writing items:


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Three-fer Thursday- {MATH!}

It's 3-fer Thursday again!

This week I'm celebrating MATH games!  My district is moving to a workshop model for math instruction and I am so honored to be one of the teachers giving the training this summer!

So, I thought I'd celebrate with MATH today on 3-fer Thursday!

You can get these three items at 20% off for today only!

Fractions center set...
Time center set...

And one of my favorites that I SO miss using from 1st grade...

Totally tally marks!  My kiddos used to LOVE this... especially the game with the rainbow spinner!

Happy 3-fer Thursday!
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