Thursday, November 27, 2014


Hi Friends,

First, I want to wish all of my bloggy friends a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I am most definitely thankful for this wonderful community that has helped me, inspired me, encouraged me, and supported me in every part of my teaching career and even some parts of my life.  From way down deep, thank you!
Next, this week the students spent some time writing acrostic poems and creating tissue paper turkeys.  But that was just the beginning of our fun!  If you have never heard of or used Blabberize, it is worth checking out asap.  Here's why - after the students finished their turkeys, they took a picture of them.  From there (in the interest of time) I used Preview (on a Mac) to add the label to each photo.  Then we uploaded each one to Blabberize.  Once a child's turkey was on Blabberize, it was a quick adjustment of the mouth piece and they were ready to record their acrostic poems.  Click the sample below for some Thanksgiving cuteness.

Now Blabberize allows you to save completed projects.  This is fabulous because I used last year's projects for this year's motivation.  The kids couldn't wait to get started.  The downside of Blabberize is that you have to take a project from start to finish in one sitting.  You do not have the capabiltiy of uploading all of your photos first but that's okay.  The time it takes to upload and adjust the mouthpiece is minimal.  Check it out for yourself by clicking the image below.

But the fun did not stop there.  Last night, in the middle of prepping for Thanksgiving, I shared each child's project with their family via email.  That's one of the positive aspects of can share a link or embed a video.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Talk about happy families!  This was my second year with this project and it's one that I can doing for many years to come.  Here's another sample just for fun.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bold Beginnings

Hi Friends,
Just popping in quickly to share a writing mini lesson that I did a couple of weeks ago (gasp!).  In my district, we have to do district wide common assessments in ELA.  So early in September, the kids had to write a narrative piece for a baseline score.  The first benchmark was fast approaching and we had spent a lot of time on nonfiction reading and writing.  I knew I had to step it up and quick.

Switching gears, I dove right into my Six Traits teachers edition and started planning.  Naturally, I decided to start at the beginning (phew!).  We spent the next week learning about ways author's begin their stories.  We read many mentor texts and analyzed how the pros did it.  I think the class favorite was Mice and Beans by Pam Munoz Ryan.  Click the picture below to see this book on Amazon.

Then we spent some time going through a variety of beginnings with this ppt that I made.  Pretty soon, I'm going to figure out how to make an interactive file that can be flattened and secured.   (If anyone knows, please share!)  After we finished going through the many creative ways to begin a story, we tried our hand at writing our own beginnings in our interactive writing notebooks.  If you're looking for a quick and easy mini lesson or two, just click the image below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Settling in...?

The last time I blogged was July.  July!  And it doesn't even count because I didn't share anything of my own.  I was spreading the word about a blogger meet up that I absolutely could not wait to attend.  Then I missed it.  And now it's November. So I guess I missed August, September, and October, too. (Sigh!) But, I think I have finally settled in.  My classroom is up and running and it feels like the kiddos are finally getting it.  I was able to get three running records done today during our Daily 5 rotations.  It was heaven!  Now if I could only get the kiddos to remember the routines for the REST OF THE YEAR. Unlikely, but so worth thinking about - don't you agree?  :)

So far, we've implemented three of the Daily 5 stations: Read to Self, Listen to Reading, and Word Work.

Read to Self was, of course, the first Daily 5 choice that was mastered.  I spent a LOT of time on building their reading stamina, modeling what it looks like, and practicing.  It seemed to take longer this year but this is not a station you want to rush through or you will pay the price.  Trust me...

I'm lucky enough to work in a district that supports the students with quality technology choices.  When a group is at Listen to Reading, they are at one of the six computers in my room.  Technically, there are only four student computers, but I bring in my own laptop so that the kiddos can use my teacher laptop.  I was also just handed a Chromebook to 'play with' for a little while, so that makes up the six.  (It pays to love using technology!)  The students at this station can use RazKids or Lexia Core 5.

Word Work was just implemented this week.  Here the students have a choice of a 'word activity' or 'word apps'.  I'm also lucky enough to be married to a wonderfully supportive husband.  He started the craziness by buying two iPads for my classroom.  Technically, one was a Christmas gift and the other was a birthday gift but they both ended up at school.  He was not surprised.  Then that led to the purchase of four more iPads, a quick confiscation of the iPods that my own children outgrew, and a Nexus 7 tablet that was won at a conference.  All of that babbling means that I have 12 devices to use.  That's enough for half of my class!  I will slowly introduce new apps and activities as they master this station.  It's going very well and I am happy.  :)

That's pretty much it as far as Daily 5 is concerned.  I would love to say that my guided reading groups are going just as well but I can not.  This is an area that I need to work on so I'm off to read my favorite blogs for some wonderful ideas.  I hope your year is going well.