Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Early Birds

I've never been one of those people lined up at midnight waiting for the doors to open so I can snag all the door buster deals. I'm more of sleep in then head out around 10 AM to snag some new towels at 40% off  and then I just kind of wander around all my favorite places to see what deals I might find. But that doesn't mean I don't wish I could still snag some of those early bird specials! So today I thought I'd have a little fun. I'm throwing a special Black Friday sale with a few timely discounts that I've never offered before. But you didn't have to be up before the sunrise to grab them, because I represent that portion of the population that like to wake up SLOW! Bonus, you can grab these from the comfort of your own living room while rocking your favorite PJ's!!

My whole store is 20% until midnight tonight for those of you that want to get a head start on the Holiday planning prep. Check out some of my seasonal favorites: Winter Flash Fluency, Christmas Around The World, and Polar Express!!

ALL of my  For The Common Core Classroom Units for 30% off until 1:00 {MST} including the BUNDLED pack!

And ALL of my CCS Writing Packs are marked down to just $2.00 until 2:00 {MST} so it's a great time to go back and grab any months you don't currently have yet in your collection. Sorry December is not yet posted. It will be posted this weekend!! :)

And since I was off the blogosphere yesterday enjoying some time with my family...

I hope you all had a Merry & Blessed Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Around The World

I'm packing our bags- 17 of them to be exact!! ;)
 Because this December, my class is taking a trip around the world!

 {Students get to add a new stamp to their suitcase as we visit each country!}

What started out as a few fun activities the week before Christmas Break has over the years turned into a full fledged Christmas Around The World unit. It made its first appearance on TPT last December, but I find I added a little more to this one every year that I teach it. Depending on how my countries you choose to focus on this unit can last you the full month of December or just a few days. It's really up to you and how you plan to pilot the trip in your classroom! I've included resources for seven countries: America/Canada, England, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Spain and Mexico.

Here's a look at some of what you will find in the updated version of this unit. 

VOCABULARY: I've added a 20 page Power Point to introduce each country and really highlight some key vocabulary, paired with an image. My goal with this is to help my students build background and make connections to their own lives as we compare each country and prepare to learn more about them.
{Sample Slide from Germany}

I also printed the PowerPoint and turned it into a book my students can read anytime!

TEXT PASSAGES: The journey to build reading detectives continues, even when we're out of the country. ;) 
Shorter passages to focus on fluency.

Longer passages to focus on close reading & text based evidence.

PRINTABLES: We spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting throughout this unit.

TRAVEL JOURNAL: After we visit each country, we write about it in our Travel Journal. I have gotten tons of sweet compliments from parents who really enjoy reading these keepsakes when they come home at the end of the unit. 

SOUVENIRS: For each country there is mini souvenir craft for the children to make and add to their suitcases.

You can check out the complete preview HERE. For those of you who purchased it last year, make sure you go back and download the newest version so you can get ALL the new additions!

I will send this unit to the first two people to comment on this post!! :)
Congrats Laura & Polly!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Countdown...!

In the words of my dear friend Junie B. Jones - Wowie, Wow, Wow!!! We made it to Thanksgiving Break! Which can only mean ONE thing...the Holiday Countdown is ON!? Yup! It's true. We're off next week and the next time I will see my littles, it'll be December! Before we officially "go there," completely, here are a few peeks from my week and I'll show you how I'm easing into the transition from Turkey Day to Holidays at school... 

 ONE: Squanto's Snack!!
This is a favorite little Holidays snack I like to "dig" up each year. For those of you who still have a few days standing between you and the big bird, this is an easy treat to whip up! You'll need: Spoons (shovel) Oreos (dirt) Swedish fish (fish) and Candy corn or popcorn (corn seeds). Also, a little plastic baggie if you want your kids to crush the oreos. I let mine. I give them 3 Oreos each. They use their shovel to dig a hole,plant the seeds, and the fish. Then, it's chow time! We follow up with an Informative Writing Piece from my Squanto & Samoset lesson. My ultimate goal is to make Common Core as painless as possible for them and for me. This is why I make all these For The Common Core Classroom Units - activities like this are what it's all about! :) 

TWO: Working so hard!! Makes My Teacher Heart Happy! <3 

                   {This little one is only rocking a bandana in this shot because it was a school spirit hippie day! Ha!!}

Some of my Instagram faves had some questions about this one, wondering what kinda magic was going on that made it where my firsties could read these passages on their own. As much as I wish my class could all read these texts from my All About Thanksgiving Unit on their own - only about a handful of them can. I created these texts to help teach Close Reading standards while also engaging in Social Studies content. (High Interest Non-Fiction topics, like Thanksgiving.) It's a very teacher guided and supported process. We read together, in pairs, and finally individually to answer text based questions.  I've promised a BIG blog post all about how I teach Close Reading with my primary kiddos coming up in the very near future!! Meet me back here the first week in December. There are a few more "artifacts" I need to grab pictures of before I can feel like I can do the post real justice. :)

THREE: Easiest Formative Assessment Ever.

Ok so this one isn't directly Holiday related, but I think we can all relate to that feeling of chaos and stress that sometimes  always seems to accompany the Holiday season. It was the day before we were going to be gone for a week and I just needed a quick and simple assessment. Cute is great, but sometimes I just need quick and simple! Believe it or not my firsties have been flying through the concept of time this year. So both my first and second graders have been working on time to the 5 minute mark. Being the week before break it's kinda of a crazy time. I just wanted to quickly see where we were at in terms of understanding, so I threw together this quick check formative assessment in about three minutes. 
 The kids had to determine when the five minute marks went and place them correctly around the clock's face. It was interesting to see. This guy on the left started by grabbing the :40 piece and I thought, oh he's lost. But then he put it right by the 8 and I knew, he actually has it mastered!! The kiddo on the right looked for the :05 on the board and continued seeking out times in order. He also has it down, but has to think about it sequentially. I love watching my kids THINK!!! The kids took turns doing this one at a time while the rest of the class was doing math stations.

FOUR:  My Christmas Around The World unit got a HUGE makeover last week! I'm pretty sure it's my favorite unit that I teach all year long. Today I'm getting things printed so I can have it prepped and ready to go when we get back. Click HERE to preview all it includes now!

FIVE: New Christmas at school shirt!! TARGET! <33
Happy Weekend Yall'!!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ode to a Pencil Sharpener...

This is a story all about how my classroom got turned upside down. I'd like to take a minute just sit right there, I'll tell you how I became a fan of this green sharpener!!


 Ok, here's the REAL story....

Last year I received this pencil sharpener from Troy at Classroom Friendly Supplies just before the school year began. (Fun fact: Troy is the inventor of this little green wonder and he's also a fellow teacher! ) It was my first year teaching at my current school, inheriting my new room. The room came with one fully functioning electric pencil sharpener. The FIRST WEEK of school, a little darling decided he would stick a pencil into the electric sharpener...

 eraser. side. first. 


That sharpener quickly was no more. I didn't feel like shelling out my entire school budget to purchase a new one. So a year and a half later, I can honestly tell you that I never replaced that thing. The Classroom Friendly sharpener has been my one and only ever since. Simply put, it gets the job done every time.

Some pencils I sharpened today. Still this sharp after a year and a half of regular use!
But the real test was on these "fun" pencils. You know, the ones that we buy for Holidays that are wrapped in the cheap thin plastic. The ones that notoriously destroy all other sharpeners and are nearly impossible to sharpen. 

 Same results!!

Teacher Confession: I don't let my kiddos use this sharpener whenever they want. Not because it's too difficult for them, but because ever since the whole eraser side first incident, I have some trust issues when it comes to my sharpener.  But sometimes, if someone is REALLY knockin' my socks off, I might grant them the "privilege" of sharpening some pencils for me. They think that's a pretty big deal. Oh to be six & seven years old again, right?!

It's cute, effective, and affordable. That's my kind of school supply.

It comes in five colors: red, blue, green, black, and pretty pink.

Vist Troy's website HERE to check them out for yourself!! :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Don't Eat The Turkey!!

Our classroom had a visitor today...

He came bearing a letter and asking for HELP!!! 

"Please, Don't Eat The Turkeys!!!"

 I wanted to stop by and show you my personal spin on this classic diddy.

The turkey in the middle of the board greeted us when we walked in this morning.

Help the turkeys?


But THEN, I have to teach you how to do persuasive writing. And I have all this OTHER stuff planned for us to learn today. Persuasive writing, that's hard. You don't really want me to skip teaching ALL this other stuff I had planned, just so you can help the turkeys, do you...!?

{I earned my Academy Award for the day.}

We talked about how if people aren't going to eat turkey, they are going to have to eat something else. So everyone gets a sticky note and on their sticky note they write a different food, and three adjectives to describe that food. When they're done, they stuck their sticky notes on the turkey. 

Then I pretend to be a turkey. (Yup, more acting.) 

And I plead my case about why these guys shouldn't be eating me. I start telling them all about my selected food (pizza) and all the reasons it's soooo much better.  After that I tell them to pretend THEY are the turkeys. Turn to an elbow buddy and try to convince each other. 

I wish I could show you their hilarious faces, but I'm thinking the body language in these shots speaks voumes! Just look at the animation in their pleas!! 

 A few brave turkeys got up to share their pleas with the whole class!!

Then we learned some Wild Turkey Facts to help us beef up our persuasive pleas.

And then...finally...we began organizing our ideas. 

Tomorrow...onto the final copies and the cute craft to go with it!

 Don't Eat The Turkey persuasive writing and craft

Because tomorrow is crafty Friday!! And it's wear jeans to work day!!!

And jean days are my very favorite days. The end. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

All About Thanksgiving

It's beginning to look a lot like....truthfully, Christmas!!! Everywhere I look we've skipped straight over Thanksgiving and gone right to the twinky lights (which are admittedly my favorite), trees in store window displays, and The Elf is back in stock at the North Pole...AKA Target. ;) But for at least two more weeks our classroom is going to be looking a lot like THANKSGIVING!!

Case in point, the giant Mayflower graph that got hung up this past Friday while we were busy learning all about these new people called the Pilgrims. We read about them as we started lesson one in my new  unit, Thanksgiving {Thanksgiving For The Common Core Classroom}. After we learned why the Pilgrims decided to leave England, my students had to use what they had learned to decide what they would choose to do if they were a Pilgrim. There was indeed one lone solider who was pretty sure he was not up for the trip!

Tomorrow we will continue on with this lesson and also create these maps to highlight the Mayflower's route of travel from England to North America.
 I've have been working on this latest "For The Common Core Classroom" unit these past two weeks. Every time I thought it was done, I had another idea to add. Well put a fork in me please because it's finally done!!! And it's stuffed full of historical fun and ELA standards!!

Those of you who have been following me for awhile know how much I love to integrate Science & Social Studies content into my ELA reading & writing standards. This unit is no exception! Every lesson comes with an accompanying Text Passage & Reading Detectives question sheet.

Students need to use their reading detective skills to go back into the text and find the "evidence" they need to answer each question on their sheet. I like to have my kids use a highlighter to locate their evidence before they respond to the questions.

If you're looking to dive into some Thanksgiving studies with your crew, I hope this can makes your planning life just a little bit easier!!

 I also hit up my local Barnes and Nobel last week to pick up fresh copies of some old favorites and two new books to go along with our research. My class cheered (literally) when I showed them the latest addition to our Pete the Cat collection. Pete books are a pretty hot commodity in our room all year long.  All of these books are chocked full of great facts about the Pilgrims, the Wampanoags, and the first Thanksgiving. So far a favorite class fact that we've read is that the Pilgrims did not believe in taking baths!
We'll also be using my Don't Eat The Turkey pack this week to start building our persuasive writing skills. It has received a little facelift since last year so if you already own it, please go re-download to get the updated version!! :)
Some of our cutie pie Turkeys from last year hanging on the door.
Speaking of all things Thankful...T-minus 23 days until our big move in day!!!

I give that carpet oh,  a solid 16 minutes or so before it's covered in a new shade of black and white dog hair. I'm enjoying the view while it lasts!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hand, Pair, Share

Hand, pair, shares! They're popular in our classroom. Since last year our district has been engaging us in lots of SIOP professional development, which has led me to adding a few different engagement hooks in my lessons. Hand pair share is one of them I thought I'd share with yall' tonight. I like them because they're a simple, but very effective way to get every student involved and participating!

Here is a brief rundown of how I used this in today's lesson. We've been really focusing on question sentences since last week. Can I just tell you that *few* things make my teacher heart happier then when my students start locating the things we're focusing on by themselves in real text without any prompt from me? I make a big deal about it when they do. Clearly they see how warm and fuzzy it makes me inside because my firsties this year are BIG on bringing over their books and sharing!

Ok, back to hand pair shares. Today I gave them the white boards and markers and asked them to tell me different asking words they know. I posted the different question words on the board, sometimes more than one at a time. Then they quickly get busy creating their own questions, using one of the question words on the board.

I start counting backward from 20 and they know they have until I get to 1 to have their sentence written and be standing back at their table spot. (Since hand pair share is something my class has done more than once, they know that this is the expectation and it's just another routine in our classroom.)

When everyone is standing at their spot I tell them they can "go!"which means they can put up their hands and walk to the first person they see or make eye contact with. When their hands touch they take turns reading the sentence they wrote out loud to their partner. When they finish, they have to stand with their hands touching in the air and look my way- voice off!  Once the whole group is doing this, I call out, "switch," and off they go to the next hand they see. We usually do this about 3 times per sentence and then I tell them to go back to the carpet to write their next sentence. Again, they know the drill now, so they hurry back to their seat and start writing their next sentence as I begin the backward count from 20.  I can't tell you how much my students LOVE hand, pair, share!! They ask to do it.  I love it because everyone is involved in the activity. They're reading, writing, speaking, and fully engaged in their learning!

Like everything new in the classroom the first few times you try it you want to model, model, model. I have a student model with me. I have two students model the right way (always pick the ones you KNOW are going to want to do it the wrong way for this part ;) ) and I also have two students model the incorrect way. While they're doing the activity I wander through the crowd and  "coach" them through it as needed. But I promise you, once you've done it a few times and they know the drill, you will spend hardly any time "coaching" and be able to spend lots of time observing and informally assessing!!!

Some of the sentences I got to observe today.  These are quick writes, so I just tell my kids to try their best with spelling.Today my real focus was if they were writing sentences that made sense and if they were using the correct punctuation- a questions mark - at the end of every sentence. On the days when we don't have an even number in the room, I either show them how to form a group of 3 or I jump in and become a part of the activity. This is another great opportunity for me to interact with my students and see what they know!!

Hope this gives some of you a new trick to your toolbox!! :)