Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tear Jerker Read Alouds {And My Other Favs Too!}

Reading to my class is my FAVORITE part of the day.  I love when they settle in for their snack and I can just read.  I love picking things they'd never give a second glance to and I love choosing things we can dig deeply into.

Every year I have three books I read that make me cry.

They love it!  :)

They are...

Stone Fox

I have read this every year to my class... even when I taught 1st/2nd grade.  I love sharing this book, talking about the history, and asking students to take a stand to decide if Little Willie should win or if Stone Fox should win.

I love getting to the final race... reading fast... watching the kids literally sit on the edge of their seats.

And then, turning the page to the sad sad sad finale... but then the amazing kindness... and then just letting it all sink in.

I cry every single time.  Even though I've read it for 8 years now... every time!

Tear jerker #2...

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

So beautiful!  So perfect for talking about how characters can grow and change.  Every time it makes me think of my Meggie Kay- my Cabbage Patch Doll who was my bestest friend when I was little.

Tear jerker #3...

Hachiko Waits

Last year is actually the first year I read this.  And I made the mistake of doing it RIGHT after Stone Fox so we could draw comparisons... it's a fabulous story about friendship and loyalty, but also tugs at those heart strings!

I also have some books that make me LOL!  This year I was laughing more than the kids were when we read Pippi Longstocking.

We just finished it and will be watching the movie later this year... you know the totally 80s Pippi movie... YES!

I also L-O-V-E Little House in the Big Woods.  The chapter where the papa sees the "bear" in the woods only to realize that it's really a... oh, I won't ruin the hilarity for you.  But it's pretty hilarious!

Every year after we read Little House we make butter... it's so fun and such a good connection to the book!

You just need small jars with lids, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt.  The kids shake, shake, shake for about 20 minutes.  We pair up and share a jar.  Every two minutes or so, we switch and the other partner shakes.  About halfway through, I always start dumping out the buttermilk that forms in the jars.  It helps make the finished product more solid.

This is sooooo tasty!  We slather it on bread and enjoy a delicious taste of life from the past!

What are your favorite read alouds?  I'm always looking for new chapter books to add to my collection... do share in the comments!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snapshots Try It! Packs

I'm going to lunch with Patty from 2nd in Line in about 27 minutes.  If you don't know Patty, you must check out her blog.  She's amazing!

But I wanted to pop on quickly to say that I've just posted two "Try It!" packs for my Snapshots.

You can try out two of each assessments for each grade level for free... I hope you'll like them!  They are half sheet assessments/morning work/homework/extra practice... whatever you need... kids think it's less work because it is only half a sheet... you save on copies... they take a few minutes to do and a few seconds to grade.  I give two a week in my class- one grammar with one comprehension on the back- and I grade two assessments every Friday for 50 kids and it takes me 15 minutesish and lets me see how my kiddos did on the two standards I check.  I love it!

Here is the link to the 1st grade freebie sample pack...

And here's the link to the 2nd/3rd freebie sample pack...

I will have school tomorrow... I will have school tomorrow... maybe if I keep "Little Engine that Could"ing it, it will happen!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Day Agenda and Win a SNAPSHOTS Bundle!

Happy SIXTH snow day of 2014.  That's right, friends... today is my sixth snow day since the start of the month.  It's crazy!  We're under a wind chill warning until tomorrow morning, so I'm thinking tomorrow might be my 7th.

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good snow day or two.  But this is getting silly.  I want to go teach my kiddos!

I am having some accomplishing snow days, however.

This is my agenda:

I've also finished the 1st grade GRAMMAR Snapshots!!!!  This pack has 46 quick to give and easy to grade assessments connected to 1st grade Language standards!
Find it on TpT

You can win the 1st grade bundle!  Or, if you don't teach 1st grade, you can win the 2nd or 3rd grade bundle!  All you have to do is head to my FACEBOOK page and leave a comment on the post about this giveaway... I'll pick a winner later on tonight and send you the bundle of your choice!

Each bundle has grammar, math, and comprehension assessments connected to 1st or 2nd/3rd grade standards!  Whoo hoo!

If you're off today, enjoy... drop me a comment and let me know how you're spending your snow day... and if you're in school I hate to say it but I'm jealous!

You can find the link to my blog's FB page up at the top of my page- below my banner!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

HUGE File Update!

Getting ready to head out to celebrate my sister's b-day but wanted to pop on to let you know about a HUGE file update!

My CCSS bookmark pack just tripled in size with the addition of "Thought"marks... which you print on the backs of the bookmarks to allow students to practice each strategy!

Two "Thought"marks are included for each bookmark to allow for differentiation... one thoughtshot is more "guided" type practice while the 2nd one for each standard allows students to practice with their own text.

If you have bought this, re-download!  For tonight only, it's $1 off if you want to grab it!  Just click the pic to see more!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snow Day Updates!

It is my FOURTH snow day of 2014.  I've only had ELEVEN days of school this year!  It's crazy!

I'm taking advantage of my day off to do some file updating... I just updated the preview files for my font bundle.  I have 40 CB fonts for commercial use and they are on sale right now for just $10!  Click the pic to check them out!

These are my favorites...

Right now I'm working on an addition to my Common Core Bookmarks pack... I love using these in class and can't WAIT to share the addition!  Click the pic to check them out!

So that's that!  I hate missing school on Fridays... but love the idea of a three day weekend!

Wherever you are... stay warm and safe!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fairy Tale Multiplication Games for You!

I'm still on cloud 9 over my blog re-design!  I LOVE IT!  Can you hear me shouting from the rooftops?

It's "fairy tale genre study" in 3rd grade right now, so I'm re-visiting some of my fairy tale files and getting them ready for school.  To celebrate my new blog design, I'm pulling out my very first ever "blog newsletter freebie" (which is fairy tale themed!) and sharing it on TpT!  So if you missed it last year when I sent out my first newsletter, you can grab it now for free!

Just click the pic to get two fun multiplication games and be sure to leave some lovin'!

Thanks so much for your positive comments about my blog design yesterday!  It really is beautiful... I'm so glad you all think so too!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Notice Anything Different About Me? {And a file update too!}

Do you notice anything different about me?  Go ahead.  Look around the blog.

I'm freaking out!

Oh.  My.  Word. and Shut the front door!

I am in L-O-V-E with my new blog design!  Thank you so so so much to Kassie from Designs by Kassie for SO capturing me in my new design... from the graphics to the fonts to the colors... I LOVE IT!

Kassie was SO easy to work with.  SO friendly and FAST!  I am so so so happy with my new blog!

So, Kassie wasn't the only one doing some updating this weekend... I also added "cover pages" to all of my "Snapshots" files!  Many of your requested cover pages be added so you could make the "Snapshots" into student workbooks.  Log in to TpT and re-download to access the cover pages.  They come in color and black & white for each "Snapshots" set so, if you're lucky enough to be able to print in color at school, you can!  Or if you want your kiddos to do some coloring or print on colored paper, download in B&W!

I use the grammar and comprehension "Snapshots" weekly... they're only half a page long, so the kids think it's less work and I run them back-to-back so the kiddos take 2 CCSS aligned assessments each week and I use only half a sheet of paper per kiddo!  Not only that but they take me seconds to assess... I teach ELA to two classes, so when each kid does 2 assessments, that's 100 assessments I grade every Friday.  No joke... it takes me about 10 minutes per class.  They're SO quick and easy and show me exactly how kids are doing on specific standards and skills!

Click the banner below to check them out if you missed them!

I think I'll just stare at my new blog design for the rest of the night!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writing Workshop: Quiet Ten {And Our CUTE Hall Display!}

When I still taught 1st/2nd grade, I read this book:
Find it on Amazon

...and it changed how I taught writing.

After moving to 3rd grade two years ago, I couldn't figure out a way to keep the structure in the book while still maintaining a rigorous writing instruction schedule appropriate for third graders, so I went back to some of my old habits of lots of whole class activities, no time for sharing, and lots of teacher directed feedback.

That all changed yesterday.

We started our narrative unit last week, which is my favorite writing unit to teach.  I've been doing a lot of direct instruction, sharing of mentor texts, and talking about features of good writing.  But I just wanted my kiddos to write!

So I pulled out the January narrative writing prompt from my Year-Long Writing Portfolio.

I copied them.

I taught a mini-lesson using a Robert Munsch book (so fab for a narrative study!).

Then I told the kiddos that, for the next 10 minutes everyone {yes, EVERYONE even me!} would be writing silently.  Meaning I would absolutely not be available for any reason {except blood or barfing!}.

The conversation went something like this...

Friends, I'm so excited!  Today you just get to write.  I don't care where you sit.  Sit under a table.  Lay on the floor.  Sit at the writing table.  Sit at my table.  For 10 whole minutes everyone in here... even ME!... will be writing.  And, at the end of the Quiet 10 (thanks for the name, Jennifer Jacobson book!), we'll have five whole minutes where kids can read their work.

The kids were so excited.

One of my little best friends even said at the end, "I never knew writing could be fun!".  And that about broke my heart!  I thought we had been having fun this whole time!

So, they were challenged to write to the prompt using the features of fictional narrative writing that we have been studying via our Robert Munsch author study.

And the results were AMAZING.

Ten minutes of 3rd graders not making a peep.

Quiet music flowing through the room.

Pencils feverishly writing.  Erasers flying.  Little heads bent over their papers... working so hard!

And sharing was even better.

I have them request a "star" and a "wish" from a classmate at the end of sharing.  A "star" is something a peer liked about the writing and a "wish" is something a peer wished had been done or a suggestion.

They took it so seriously, gave such great feedback, and begged me to let us have a Quiet 10 again today.

So, I did another Robert Munsch mini-lesson, did a BRIEF mini-lesson where I used what I wrote during the Quiet 10 yesterday to model how to use a carat to add words as I edited my piece, and then challenged them to use some carats as they revised and finished their narratives from yesterday today.

Friends... again.  It was beautiful.

Silent kids.  Pencils flying.  Carats being inserted all over the place to add descriptions.

During our five minutes of sharing, everyone wanted to read and they were so so so proud!  And I was so so so impressed!

They couldn't wait to show me where they used carats and how they added fictional narrative characteristics to their writing...

It was very cool.

So, the Quiet 10 is back to stay, I'm happy to report!

I'd highly recommend the book.  It's a great read, full of mini-lesson ideas, and perfect for giving your writing instruction a jumpstart!

Click the pics to check out these two resources I'm currently using for more info on my narrative unit!  And you can click the pic of the book above to see it on Amazon.

Last... we did this CUTE hallway display this week.  I saw this on Crisscross Appleasuce in 1st Grade's Instagram... love that girl, by the way!

We had so much fun making these.  I happened to have some felt snowflake stickers so each kiddo got to put one on their tongue!

Can you see the one that my little best friend made?  He just marches to his own beat  {He said, "Are you crazy? I'm making Mario, not me!"}... but he did the project and *for the most part* followed directions, so that's a win for me!  Ha!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blog Post Rewind: Free Digital Papers!

First... have you seen the 2nd/3rd grade Best Sellers Bundle on Educents?  It's full of AMAZING stuff and it could be as low as $20 if you like Educents on Facebook!  This deal is still going on for a few days.  My "Partner Reading Party" is included too!

Click the pic below to learn more!

Now for the blog post REWIND...

Looking for some free digital papers?

Click the tape below for a blog post rewind!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You Get the Groundhog Pack... for an hour!

Yesterday I blogged about my updated Groundhog Day pack and said I'd pick two people to send it to today... well... until 5pm (that's about an hour), I'm going to change it to a free item on TpT!  Sadly, I won't be sending it out via e-mail if you miss it... that's the fun of FLASH freebies!

Be sure to leave some feedback!

Click the pic below to check it out...

Monday, January 6, 2014

No For Snow Days! {And Product UPDATE that You can WIN!}

After a LOOOOOOOONG Christmas break {life is upside down, remember?}, I was so looking forward to getting back to the classroom today.  Doing something normal.  Doing something I love to do.  Taking my mind off of stuff.  And then the snowfall to end all snowfalls happened yesterday and school was cancelled today.

So, I began looking forward to tomorrow.  You know, when I could get back to do something normal that I love that will take my mind off of stuff?  And then the cold to end all cold began to happen and I have ALREADY gotten the call that school is closed tomorrow too!

NO!  NO!  NO!

Usually I'm "boom boom"ing for snow.  Wearing my PJs inside out.  Flushing ice down the toilet.  Potato by the alarm clock.  Spoon on the nightstand... tricks for a snow day, I've got 'em!  But I want to go to school!!!!!!!!

I am so so so hoping that the roads are clear tomorrow and I can just go in to my classroom.  Right now the sheriff has our county under house arrest.  No one is to be on the roads unless it is an emergency.  For realz.

So the only positive is that I did do a massive product update this morning.  In a few short weeks it will be the most beloved holiday celebrated in schools across America... you got it... Groundhog Day!  And what a better way to celebrate than with this fun pack with ABC order, compound words, writing, snack making, graphing predictions, and a flippy book!

Click either pic to learn more on TpT!

If you had previously purchased it, go back to your dashboard and re-download.  It looks so much better now!

If you want a chance to win a pack, just drop me a line.  I would love to read your comments on this snowy, ridiculously cold day which is keeping me cooped up at home instead of at school!

I'll choose a winner (or two) tomorrow and send you the pack!

Friday, January 3, 2014

CANstruction- Food Drive Fun!

This post is for you, Patty!

Today I had lunch with my best blog friend, Patty from 2nd in Line.  After a rocky start to the day, {think below zero temperatures = my car would not start.  Then, while rushing out to greet my dad who came to give me a jump, I fell on the ice on my deck and landed on my arm and then my butt (which both still hurt, btw)!  Then had to go buy a new car battery for over $100... UGH!} she treated me to a tasty lunch and we even ran into some of my co-workers at the restaurant for extra fun!

During lunch, I was telling Patty about CANstruction, which is what we call our December food drive at school.  We collect canned and boxed foods just like a normal food drive... but on the last day of the collection, we combine our cans with those from another class (the teams are pre-decided) and work together to build a structure using the cans and boxes... or a CANstruction!

We're pretty competitive over in my neck of the woods so there are some typed out rules and guidelines about what you can and can't use for your structures... we can use things like tape, paper, string, pipe cleaners, paper towel rolls, etc... and this year, our principal gave us a twist.  We were allowed to use ONE item not on the list.

So... one of my sweeties came up with the idea of building the Mackinac Bridge.  We worked in secret all morning in my room... I took pictures and printed them so our friends from our partner class could help us build it for the real competition.

Here is what we came up with...

We used one of our little benches from the hallway as our one item not on the list.

We built up cans on both sides of the table...

Then we had to create the pillars of the bridge...

We added a road and the suspension cables...

We used the boxes and bags of food to make boats and cars...

Here's our totally finished product after the contest...

At the end of the day, my principal came on the announcements to reveal the winner... which he said was the local food bank.  All the kiddos wanted to know who the REAL winner was... and it was us!  Whoo hoo!

My school sent over 1,500 items to the local food bank.  We had fun.  We worked together in an amazing display of teamwork.  And won... which was just a sweet little bonus!
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