Friday, February 27, 2015

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday! It's been a big week, so what better way than to celebrate with a Five for Friday link up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

So let's get this party started!
Wahoo! We finally made it to the100th Day of school this week.  On Tuesday, we celebrated the 100th day with the Aging Booth app.  My kids had a blast taking their pictures and fast forwarding 100 years.  We did a side show of all our pictures and it was the funniest thing to watch.  Every time a new picture came on the screen the screamed like we were in the theater watching a scary movie.  After viewing our pictures, we wrote about what our life will be like in 100 years.  It was by far my favorite 100th Day activity that I have ever done.  I highly recommend downloading this app!

This week was my first time being a part of a big sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. It was really exciting! It made me grateful to be starting this journey working with Teachers Pay Teachers as they honored all those amazing teachers out there. After all, teachers are...neat, sweet and hard to beat.  I defiantly took part in the sale too and got lots of goodies! Buying clip art and font can be a bit addicting. 

Last week we only went to school one day because of all this crazy weather.  So, we had a lot of catching up to do in order to celebrate President's Day.  A teammate of mine made a great QR code scavenger hunt that we used to learn all about Abraham Lincoln.  We examined pictures of Lincoln, read books about him, and even made our own little book to honor him. 

I downloaded this writing book freebie from TpT on Sailing Through 1st Grade's store.  

Speaking of snow days, it has been too cold to go outside this week and our playground is still covered in snow.  Recess has been inside all week!  However, thanks to GoNoodle we are officially indoor recess survivors.  Thank you GoNoodle for helping to get the wiggles out! 

AND FINALLY...In baby news: this week marks WEEK 30! WAHOO! I feel like we have hit the big 3-0 and are in the home stretch. 

PS. My husband took this photo right after I got home from school...I am a little sleepy, can you tell? ;) 

I am going to be working on a big freebie coming up next week as I link up with some fellow VA bloggers! Keep an eye out for a giveaway too!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teachers Are HEROES Sale!

Starting at 12:01AM, February 25th a sale will be going on at! Visit my store and other tpt stores to get your favorite products made by teachers just like you. All of my products are marked 20% off. Then enter the promo code HEROES during check out to receive additional savings! After all, it's teachers that are Neat, Sweet & Hard to Beat! Thank you for all you do teachers! Hope you enjoy this great sale in honor of you!

Now go empty that wish list you have been filling up! Happy shopping! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Informational Book Authors

      4 Weeks ago we started on our journey to become nonfiction authors! It has been an exciting time in writing workshop.  
      My writing workshop is usually about 50 minutes long and that always start with a 10 minute mini-lesson.  After the mini-lesson, my students get about 30 minutes of writing time to try something from the mini-lesson or continue their work from the previous day.  The last 10 minutes of our workshop is for sharing, and we like to share in all sorts of ways.  Sometimes we partner up with a buddy to share what we tried that day, and other times I choose two or three students to display their work under the document camera.  (If you don't have a document camera I highly suggest trying one out, it is amazing!)  I use a single sheet paper instead of a writing notebook, and students keep all of their work in writing folders.  We have been building our stamina as writers since the second week of school. My students truly value this block of our day as a quiet time to express themselves through writing.  I usually turn off a few lights in the room and turn on Gary Lamp's Music for the Mind.  His music is 60 beats per minute to support focused and fluid thinking.  
      During the last few weeks we switch from writing small moment stories into nonfiction writing.  We started the writing unit off by comparing a nonfiction book with a fiction book.  From this we discussed that fiction stories have characters, settings, problems, and solutions.  Then we noticed that nonfiction stories do not have these elements.  We decided as nonfiction writers we had to become experts at a topic in order to write about it. So we took our weather unit in science and focused on extreme weather.  We researched blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. The kids loved it! Weather is such an exciting topic for them to learn about. Blizzards and tornadoes were the favorites in our class, because many of them haven't experienced these types of storms here in our area. We did a lot of our research on the IPads with QR codes that I provided them. They also had a big bin of weather books to read through. While reading, they kept their notes in a research notebook I made them.  After a few days of research it was time to turn all we had learned into complete sentences for our books!  
    We spent about a week turning our research into writing while still examining other nonfiction books to learn how to "hook" our readers so they would want to read our books!  After that we worked on revising and editing.  Finally, we learned about nonfiction text features to make our books even more interesting! We added a table of contents, diagrams, captions, and a glossary.  Before we knew it, about three and a half weeks of writing had flown by!  We laminated our covers, bound our books together, and finally it was time to share our books!  We invited parents and other 2nd graders to our room and it was a BLAST! Our room was packed full of readers!

We welcomed our guest with a letter we wrote for them during morning meeting.  We even had a guest book for our visitors to sign!   Check out a few of our published books! 

     After 4 weeks of hard work, each and every student had a wonderful book to demonstrate their understanding of extreme weather.  They were so proud of their hard work that they couldn't stop cheesin'! :)  
    To try this writing unit out in your own class visit my store for your very own copy!  This product includes the following:

  • 4 weeks of writing plans
  • Suggested book titles
  • QR codes for research
  • Recording pages for research
  • All of the pages to make your own informational nonfiction book
  • Invitations to invite guest to your author open house
  • Guest book
  • 3 anchor chart examples
This unit covers over 10 common core standards for reading and writing! 

Hope you enjoy watching your students turn in to authors! 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Go for the Goal! Student-Teacher Conferences & Goal Setting

This week my school has been focusing on student-teacher conferences.  We just wrapped up the end of the second quarter last week and to kick off the start of the third quarter our grade level had a sub day yesterday in order to meet with each and every student!  It defiantly was a day full of reflection and goal setting.   

Last year we started student-teacher conferences school wide so that students would get this opportunity to receive feedback from their teachers year after year.  If you didn't know this already...I looped from first graders up to second grade this year.  With that being said, it was so interesting to see how much more reflective they have become in just a years time. Last year in first grade our conference was much more basic with discussions of what their favorite subject was and hopes and dreams for the second half of the second year.  

However, this year so many more of my students had a deeper understanding of what subjects came easily to them and what subjects were more challenging for them.  From this discussion we started focusing in on what they found challenging in certain subjects that weren't as natural for them.  Then we started setting goals to become more proficient writers, readers, and mathematicians.   Some of my students even decided that instead of focusing on a subject for their goal they needs to focus more on citizenship skills such as responsibility or respect.  

We have had a focus on feedback at school because of its importance in leading students to success. Acknowledging that they are doing well in certain areas gives them a sense of achievement, motivation and drive.  Recognizing what areas students need to improve in is also important so that they can grow as learners.  Just a simple "good job" or "this is incorrect" is not necessarily effective feedback that will help them grow as students. Effective feedback requires that the feedback given to them is something they can learn from and even direct them to start setting goals.  

When conferencing with my students I wanted them to leave the conference with a goal in mind.  So I had them do some simple self reflection before meeting with me.  This included giving themselves a thumbs up, thumps down or thumbs to the side based on how they feel they have done in math, reading and writing.  I also had them reflect on some basic citizenship goals such as staying on task and following directions.  Once they did this reflection I ask them to write two simple sentences about what they feel they are good at in school and what they feel they could get better at in school.  This helped guide and focus our conference time because I was able talk with them about what I saw as their strength and areas for growth in the classroom.   Leading up to the conference I also read a lot of read alouds with characters that set goals and worked to achieve different dreams.  

After conferencing and setting goals together we read SUPERDOG! The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner.  From this I modeled how the main character, Dex, set a goal to be a superhero and we discussed what actions he took to reach this goal.  The students loved the book and it helped them understand that goals don't happen over night.  My favorite quote from the book was that "wanting and being are two different things." This lead to a powerful conversation with my students about the difference between wanting something and becoming something through hard work.  The book demonstrated that reaching your goal can be very rewarding.  From this we wrote down our goals to help remind us that we have a purpose and a plan while we are at school. In a few weeks we are going to check in with our goals.  Here is our example of Dexter the Superdog's goals:

If you are interested in doing student-teacher conferences with your class or even goal setting visit my TpT store and download your copy of my goal setting pages.  

Hope you enjoy and happy goal setting!