Monday, December 14, 2015

Fern Smith's Fun Writing Centers Using Old Christmas Cards!

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Fun Writing Centers Using Old Christmas Cards!

An Exciting and Seasonal Writing Center
This is one of my very favorite, high interest, inexpensive writing centers for December!
Take old Christmas cards and cut out one of the pictures from the front. You can have a parent volunteer do this for you, or you can even let the students select five or six cards and cut out their favorite part of the front page. 
I use a glass to make a quick circle, but if you let the children make them, you could use a red Solo cup or a circle cardboard tracer. I like to use the circle shape because that helps the children "eliminate the big picture and just focus on the detail of what's in the circle" for their writing. Children are usually excellent at telling the BIG STORY, but this helps teach the finer details. 
Who? What? Where? When? Why did you select it?

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Fun Writing Centers Using Old Christmas Cards!

Another terrific way to use this idea is to give each child a Christmas envelope to keep their own five or six pictures in at their desk. This helps if you are trying to keep class movement down during this crazy, hectic time of the year. It is perfect for students that are Early Finishers or morning bell work.

Ways to Get Old Christmas Cards:
1. Ask your family and friends on Facebook.
2. Ask your neighbors.
3. Right after Christmas when Wal*Mart and Target has everything for 75% off.
4. The front office, they usually just throw them away.
5. Ask the students, parents and PFA to bring them to school.
{You don't even need the personal details written on the inside, just ask everyone to tear off the front cover for you.}

I Hope Everyone Enjoys Their Holidays!
Click here to visit my blog for more resources, tips and freebies.

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Freebies at Owl-ways Be Inspired
Have a great day friends!
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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Farmer in the Dell - Sentence Patterning Boards

Teaching parts of speech can get pretty boring and redundant after a while. So why not make it more fun?!
For every unit that I teach, I include a "Farmer in the Dell" sentence patterning chart. Farmer in the Dell is from GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition and Design.) These are charts that include separate columns for adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, and prepositional phrases. The teacher and students combine words from the charts to make sentences and "sing" the sentences to the tune of Farmer in the Dell.
It's easy to make and it does wonders in teaching parts of speech in the present, future, and past tense and more! Try it!

As you can see from the photos above, once you write down the student responses, you can manipulate the prepositional phrase column by cutting it and placing it at the beginning of the chart. This allows students to see how a sentence can be written in different ways.

For the holidays, (or any holiday) you and your students can create a sentence patterning chart for any noun!
Topics, for example can be: Santa, elf, gift, tree, reindeer, candy cane, stocking, etc. Have fun with it! I'm sure your students will get a kick out or singing, "Huge and furry candy canes
Huge and furry candy canes
Huge and furry candy canes  
run across the yard!"
Then they can draw it! How cool is that?! :)

I can't wait to do it in the month of December. I'm sure Grammar time will be much more fun when their working in partners giggling over "Large and bumpy elves swimming in the beach." Ha!

For a free Farmer in the Dell template (Spanish & English) click

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How to Follow a Blog

Once upon a time, I used the Bookmarks feature on my internet browser to follow blogs. Yep, super embarrassing to think about that now, but I know for a fact that not everyone knows how to go about following their favorite blogs (and some people, I can't name names, don't actually follow any blogs--shocking to many of you as that is).  If you have teacher friends that look at you like you are speaking a foreign language when you mention a teacher blogger that is "famous" in the teacher blogger world, you can feel free to direct them to this tutorial so they can join in on the pure amazingness of teaching blogs.  I would bookmark my favorite teaching blogs, then check them about once a week (I noticed that's about how often the authors would write new posts). Thankfully, since that time, I have learned how to follow my favorite blogs and find new ones to read every so often. This is a little tutorial on how to do that. 
So, the first step I use to follow blogs is getting a Bloglovin' account. It's free. It keeps your blogs in one place. Get there.
 If you choose the email route, confirm in your email.
 Then, you're ready to start adding blogs to follow!
 If you're a teacher (and chances are, you are if you're on my blog), you can just type in "teacher" to start. You'll find a ton just with that one word. See the "A Teeny Tiny Teacher" blog there?  If you have even the smallest sense of humor, or humour if you're fancy, you'll dig her blog (I laugh at every single post). You can also type in "teaching" and get some more blogs that you may be interested in. Once you sort of look around and what's out there in the world of teaching blogs (and home decor/renovations if you're into that like me), you'll be building up your blog list quickly. You can always "unfollow" a blog if you don't end up liking any of the posts or accidentally add one. I prefer to follow blogs that tell stories about random stuff I can relate to (read about Abby's post pregnancy legging showdown here), show more of their personal side and not just teaching, give tips/tutorials and are funny. Those are just my personal preferences. There are a couple fashion/makeup/hair ones I follow, but to be honest, I can't keep up with that in my life right now, so I don't actually read them anymore #mommyproblems
If you click on an individual blog, you can see several recent posts. Boy....apparently been on a bit of a tutorial kick, haven't I?
Once you've started to follow some blogs, you'll have "unread posts" to sort through. Now Bloglovin' by default just gives you (I think) the last handful of posts a blog you just followed. If you don't want to read them, just click "Mark as read" at the bottom of the post in your "feed" (the list of posts).
And if you come across a blog that you like, you should be able to see one of these symbols that will let you add it to your list to follow future posts. Can you find mine on my actual blog???
And, if you're like me, you might prefer to read blogs while you're waiting in those random times throughout your day. We all have them (mine is in the middle of the night when I'm feeding my baby).  Bored at the doctor's office and the 'zines ain't your style or are old issues? Time to whip out your phone and catch up on some blog reading. Just download the Bloglovin' app and you can have your favorite blogs at your fingertips.
So that's it. There are probably other ways to follow blogs, but this is how I roll. Feel free to leave a comment below!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fluency Phrase Games! Try It Out!

Hey there, friends! It's Lauren Lynes from Simply Second Grade! Today I wanted to share with you some games I created to help our kiddos with their reading fluency. These games use Fry's Phrases for the First 100, Second 100, and Third 100 words. We started using them a few weeks ago and our kids are LOVING them! We are already seeing some progress with their sight words in their reading fluency! We use them for a couple of minutes at the beginning of our intervention to get our kiddos prepared and focused on their fluency.

The games are sorted by level, so it makes for super quick and easy differentiation! I decided to copy each level on a different color of paper. {Here you can see that I copied the games for the First 100 Words on yellow paper, the Second 100 Words on green paper, and the Third 100 Words on blue paper}.

I put the games in dry erase pockets, but sheet protectors would work just as well. Now we can reuse them, and we can save our oh-so-precious copy counts :)

Each level includes three games: Tic-Tac-Toe, Roll and Color, and Spin and Check. There is a total of 34 game boards included in this pack.

For Tic-Tac-Toe, students play with a partner. They put an X or O on a phrase if it is read correctly. Three in a row wins!

For Roll and Color, students roll a dice. They read a phrase in that column and color it in. 

For Spin and Check, students make a spinner with a pencil and a paperclip. They read a phrase in the correct column and check it off. 

You can check out these games HERE, or by clicking on the picture below! There are 34 pages of games in this pack. And BONUS! If you download the preview, you will get a free sample of each game!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Let's Talk Turkey - Fictional Turkey Fun!

Happy Wednesday, folks! It's Lisa from over at Second Grade Stories. Are you looking for some last minute fictional turkey fun for your kiddos this week or next? I want to share some of my favorite books to use each year with our turkey theme. I also created a quick freebie you can use with each book, just to keep things easy for you!

I LOVE this book, and so do my kiddos. It's the perfect book to read if do a "disguise a turkey" project. (Check out THIS POST from Melissa over at Mrs. Dailey's Classroom if you're looking for some disguise inspiration!) The turkey's costumes are funny and second graders really get the humor in this book. I like to go back and reread the book closely, looking for the things the animals say that relate to what costume the turkey is wearing. The story structure lends itself well to a problem/attempts/solution structure. I created a simple retelling sheet, as well as a response sheet for students to come up with their own costumes for turkey. This is an easy alternative to a big turkey disguise project.

These next books go together - I have two of them, but I didn't know there was a third! The Great Turkey Race tells about how the turkeys save themselves from being eaten on Thanksgiving  and how they decide to be good friends and save another turkey who hasn't been so nice! In The Amazing Turkey Rescue, the turkeys are back at the farm working to save their friends the chickens from the mean fox that has showed up. These are both great books to use for character traits, as well as story structure and problem/solution. I created some discussion cards you use to have your kiddos turn and talk - or with a small group - to talk about the stories. I also like to compare and contrast the two stories, as well.

My final favorite book is not about turkeys - but about being thankful. It lends itself to a wonderful writing project. In the book, the daughter looks through her mother's scrapbook, asking about all the wonderful things she has done, and asking which is her "most thankful thing?" Of course, the Mom's most thankful things is her daughter, which brings the story to a wonderful ending. At the start of our writing activity, I ask my students to list some of their most thankful moments. Then we go through the list and talk about each one. This not only helps us be ready to choose our MOST thankful moment, but the oral discussion helps students be able to add details to their ideas when we start our writing. After everyone has one most thankful thing, we start our writing. We use a topic sentence, some details and have a great writing activity that not only shows what we are thankful for, but also helps me to get to know my students a little better, too.

 You can grab all this turkey fun in one place, by clicking {HERE}.  And you can head over to my blog and see what I've got planned for some informational turkey reading and writing! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Disguise a Turkey Giveaway {A Thanksgiving Tradition in Mrs. Dailey's Classroom}

Hi Friends! It's Melissa from Mrs. Dailey's Classroom and today I am talking all things turkey! Every year I read the story, Turkey Trouble and then assign an adorable disguise the turkey project

The kids are asked to disguise their turkey so that is makes it past Thanksgiving! They always eat that idea right up! 
 There are many extensions to the project. I have included different graphic organizers, a writing prompt, writing paper, letter to the parents explaining the project, and more!

 I also love these introduction cards! Right after I read the story I show them these disguised turkeys! I always here likes of laughing and it's like I can see the wheels turning in their brains as to how they will disguise their turkeys!

Here are some disguised turkeys! They rocked this year! I always love seeing them come back! Once we get them back, the students share how they disguised their turkeys and then I hang them in the hallway!

 I love using the writing piece when the kids bring back their turkeys. They sequence how they disguised their turkey and write about how they kept it safe!

I don't give many guidelines, so some students bring them back in shoe boxes. Isn't this snowman turkey adorable?

I hope you love this project as much as I do! You can check it out in my TpT Shop HERE.
Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reading Workshop Tips

Hi friends! This is Jen from Teaching in the Tongass and I'm blogging today to tell you all about how I run my Reading Workshop.  Depending on how long you've been teaching, you may or may not have done a Reading Workshop in your classroom. I know every classroom sets up their reading block differently, but this post is a peek at how I run my Reading Workshop. I remember starting teaching and not really having a clue how to run my reading block--the education textbooks we read in my literacy courses and what we did in my student teaching (4th grade) were surprisingly not that helpful when it came down to figuring it out for my own 2nd grade classroom. So, I wrote this post with my former first-year teacher-self in mind, but you're welcome to check it out and see if there's anything helpful to you as well!
reading workshop
 I'll break each component of my Reading Workshop down into the 4 basic parts.
reading workshop
Depending on what grade you teach and what your students need, this can be a variety of things. You can focus on comprehension, vocabulary, decoding...basically whatever you know your students are going to need (this can be determined from your reading conferences or even guided reading). The point of this time of your reading workshop is to try to narrow in on something the majority of your students can benefit from.  It could be anything from using context clues to figure out the meaning of a word (vocabulary strategy) to making a prediction about what will happen next in a text (comprehension strategy).  You might use a few different strategies from your teacher "hat" or bag of tricks, but my personal favorites are anchor charts (poster you can prep ahead of time--write on with class and display for later referencing) and teacher think-alouds (talking to yourself while reading..."Hmm, I think bandage means band-aid because they sound alike and he's talking about putting it over his ouchie.").
reading workshop
At this point in you reading workshop, you (the teacher) read a book. Now there are many different ways people like to do this part, but I personally like to use highly engaging trade books that either a) go with a theme/holiday we might be talking about or b) emphasize the minilesson you previously taught.  If you have a reading program your school uses, this would probably be your weekly text. You might have students following along with you, or you might have them just listening while you read. The purpose of this time is for you to model what real reading sounds like and what real readers do. For instance, if you are focusing on making predictions, you would want to stop every so often while you are reading and ask yourself/your students what might happen next. Now, as an adult, I don't often stop reading and think to myself, I wonder what will happen next? But, in a microsecond, I actually do that. You probably do as well. But, this doesn't always come naturally to readers, which is why we have to model these strategies aloud for our students.  Modeling what reading sounds like enhances reading fluency, which is why making time for a read-aloud daily is so important. And if you can do special voices for different characters, you just earned major bonus points and your students will love you even more than they already do! Think about it. Do you like to listen to students read like robots, or with expression? It's the same for them.  Also, kids love it!  It just makes common sense. Don't be afraid, I promise they won't run home and tell their parents that your version of the B.F.G is not what they pictured. 
reading workshop
This time is your "meat" of the reading workshop. It's where students get to practice what you've been teaching and show off their skills. There are many different ways to organize and manage this time, and throughout your teaching career things will of course shift and instructional coaches/coteachers/admin/even bloggers will tell you what's best. I'll just tell you what I did and how it worked for me. 
Independent Reading: 
A little back story first. I started off my teaching career with plain old independent reading. Students read, it was great. Then, my principal at the time said, "You can't have them reading for an hour! They're in 2nd grade...they're just babies! You've got to get them doing centers." I thought, "what on Earth are centers??" And quickly bought up the entire Lakeshore Learning catalog of centers. No joke. Then, I had them all organized in tubs with "I can" statements on each tub so that when said principal walked in they could recite what the tub said when she asked "What are you learning?" (genius, I know haha).  While students were working on the centers with the skills I had just taught or reviewed, I would be managing a guided reading group. Everyone was quiet, on-task and to anyone doing a walk-through, it looked fantastic.  I had it all figured out. Or so I thought. Then, one day when I started actually looking at their work they had turned in after checking it off, I realized, "Hey...these kids aren't getting these skills I'm putting in tubs! I will just have to review it with them tomorrow before centers."  But gosh darnit, they didn't. That went on for a few months (shameful, but it was my first year, I was figuring things out at a snail's pace) until finally, FINALLY, I went to the literacy leader (this was before the word "coach" came into play) across the hall.   The literacy coach across the hall, one of my favorite people, said, "Centers? They can handle independent reading." And that was that. I didn't know who to listen to. My boss or my mentor. So...long story short, I listened to my GUT and went with independent reading with a splash of accountability. Enter, my reading journals. The very first item I put in my TpT store was this my Reading Journal freebie.  Yes, that date says 2011. 
These reading response journals have been prettied up with different clipart since those days, but the content remains the same and I have used them for 7 years.  
reading workshop
Basically, students read a book, fill out a reading response, and choose another book. I didn't have book boxes, so I didn't use them. They would simply get up and go get another book (at their DRA level).  And yes, I occasionally would have students that needed me to limit how many times they could get up. In those instances, I would simply let them choose about 5 books to keep at their desk (same idea as a book box). There are 4 different journals I use and they all correspond to independent reading levels (A-M).  You can check out the the first one for FREE by clicking here. As students move up in reading ability, I give them the next reading journal to complete (I make them into packets of about 20 responses each).  I typically model how to complete a response during a guided reading lesson, but it can also be done whole group.  My favorite thing about these are that they can be used all year long, and at any time. They can be implemented in homework, guided reading, sub plans, early finisher work, or my personal favorite, drop-of-the-hat situations ("What's that? the nurse needs to talk to me in the hall and it absolutely can't wait? Kids, please get your reading journals out now."). I can't tell you how much I love the versatility of these things. Seriously.
I like to meet with students to discuss their strengths and areas of improvement at least once a week (usually on Fridays). That doesn't mean I meet with every student on every Friday. I usually have a checklist and rotate through about half the class one week and the other half the next week.  I like to keep a quick record of what we talk about on this sheet and I find it's super helpful in guiding our discussions. You can grab it FREE here.
I usually have them read a bit aloud and tell me what they're reading as well, but if I'm running low on time, the reading journal is a quick way to get a glimpse at what they've been up to and what they've been reading.
I like to organize my classroom library by level so students can easily find a book at their "just right level," but many teachers organize by genre to avoid any stigmas. Do what feels comfortable to you. I feel like if you can create an environment where students don't feel ashamed of their abilities, rock the leveled library. If you are unsure and want to avoid any issues, rock the genre library. If you start something and need to change it mid-year, lesson learned. That's what this job is all about....growth! And don't get me wrong, we had plenty of "Choice Reading" so students could choose whatever title they wanted (so you can stop thinking I'm Cruella now). 
Guided Reading: 
This is typically done at a kidney/u-shape/horseshoe table like this. This is what you (the teacher) are doing while your other students are reading independently. 
Students in small groups (anywhere from 1-7 kids if I'm wearing my honest hat, but ideally 5 kids) meet with the teacher. I like to sort my guided reading groups by reading level (my preference is to use a DRA, but you can use DIBELS as well).  A normal group might look like 4 kids between level A-3, 4 kids between level 6-8, 5 kids between level 10-12,  and 5 kids between level 14-16.  You may notice that I don't meet with my higher readers (above 16) in that scenario.  It's true. I typically work more with them during our 1-1 conferences on Fridays because I know they're more independent.  It all depends on your class and where your students are.  You can also structure your guided reading to be shared with another teacher at your grade level--we call that Walk to Read (but that's another post for another time) so that you can maximize your group time and meet with all students each week.  
Now, many different programs out there have different ways to do a guided reading lesson. Most reading programs have a guided reading component included. Depending on your class, you can probably sort them into near-ability groups and end up with 3-5 different groups.  You'll want to see your kids with higher needs every day. Every classroom schedule is different, but I included my own sample schedule in the download below. I also made these binder covers for my groups, you can click below to grab this FREEBIE.
reading workshop
I typically start of with some word work (could be basic letter/phonemic awareness or even multisyllabic words/meaning) as a warm-up (typically 2-3 minutes). This may correspond to a phonics skill we are practicing with the class, but it typically doesn't.  It could be a decoding strategy or even a spelling pattern I know we'll come across in the text (always preview the book yourself so you can take advantage of knowing those tricky words that might trip them up).  
If you downloaded the above schedule, you'll see it has "observe" in each box. That's where I put students that I want to listen to carefully (if you use a running record, this would be where you can write their name). This helped me a TON. I needed to keep track of rotating through the students in each group or I might not remember who was absent on Monday and still needed me to hear them read. Have I mentioned I have terrible short term memory?! #cantdoitall So, while the other students work on their word work warm up, I would be doing a quick check (usually a running record--they read a bit of text and I follow along marking where they made mistakes and what kind of mistakes they were) in on one student each time that group meets (and rotate through the other students as the week goes on).  
Then, I pass out the books (everyone has the same one). Depending on the reading level or strategy we are working on, I might do a picture walk (flip through and discuss the pictures--pique interest, use words that may come up in the text, activate prior knowledge).  My personal style for guided reading includes students in the group all whisper reading the same page as I lean in and offer help when needed. As students finish the page at different times, I have them wait with a fisted thumbs up on their page.  When everyone in the group has finished the page, I ask them to read the page aloud altogether.  Depending on the level of text, I can sometimes ask a few comprehension questions that promote deeper thinking (visualizing, predictions, inferring, etc.), but most of the time we end up focusing on decoding strategies.  We usually work through one book each day, rereading the previous day's book sometimes, but not always.  It all depends on the complexity and length of the texts you are using. 
In my guided reading area, I usually have the books the group will be reading in a color-coded book box, along with any corresponding worksheets/word work activities.  I have a set of these that I use (from Really Good Stuff).
Since I organize my groups by color, I keep each group's supplies in a separate container with matching folders (I prefer the plastic ones I can reuse year to year--these 3 prong folders from Walmart are my favorite).       
Here is a little guide for guided reading supplies I put together that you may find helpful. Feel free to Pin for later!
Disclaimer: The following contain Amazon affiliate links.  
reading workshop
The final part of Reading Workshop is Sharing. In my classroom, I had to force myself to make this part of the plan. It can be so easy to rush through everything each day and time runs out more often than we all would like it to. So, what does sharing look like in my classroom? It's pretty basic. I usually call on 1-3 kids (time dependent of course) to share what they did today "that good readers do." I use the same language every. single. time. Possible answers are things like, "I made a prediction," or "I figured out what ___ meant by using context clues."  I like to follow up with questions just to keep them on their toes and make sure they aren't just spewing back sentences they've read from our anchor chart about "What Good Readers Do." 
So that's it! That's the gist of how I run my Reading Workshop.  I have never claimed to be a literacy expert or besties with Fountas and Pinnell, but I do have 7 years of teaching under my belt (not a ton of time, I know), so I am only writing from my own experience and what has worked for me.  Oh, and I made this little Reading Expectations Poster set  (a freebie!). Click below to grab it.
If you have any questions, thoughts, or something that you've loved or hated about your own Reading Workshop, please feel free to leave a comment below. 
reading workshop