Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year - A Time for Reflection

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Safe and Happy New Year!

My resolution for 2014 is to take more time out to reflect.  I am the type of person who goes nonstop all day, and then I totally crash at night.  The benefit to this is I am able to get a lot accomplished.  However, the downside is I hardly ever take time to reflect on my day.  Next year, I hope to take more time out to reflect on work, relationships, home, fitness, spirituality, etc.  It is my hope that this reflection will lead me to more balance and a deeper appreciation for all the blessings in my life.  This is the one thing I want to focus on.  I am linking this resolution up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics.  She is hosting a 1 for Me linky.  I love this idea. Thank you, Tara!

I started blogging in July, 2013.  I am so appreciative of all the support I have received from fellow bloggers, followers, family, and friends.  I know I have become a better teacher due to these relationships.  There is such a wealth of great teachers who are willing to share their ideas.  I feel truly blessed to be a part of this community.  I will certainly continue this journey, by enhancing the relationships I have, as well as building new ones.  Jennifer from Simply Kinder came up with a great way to do this. She is hosting a Teaching Blog linky party to help readers discover new blogs.  Be sure to check out the great list of blogs that are linked up here.

Finally, I would like to end 2013 and start the 2014 off with a sale.
Everything in my TPT store is 10% off today and tomorrow!

Thank you, and have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Winter Word Work

Hello Everyone!  I hope you are enjoying the holidays.  It is definitely the time of year to spend time with family and friends.

In addition to spending quality time with my loved ones, I have been able to accomplish a few things for school.  I am ready to change out some of my spelling centers.  Prefixes, root words, and suffixes are a huge focus for us.  With that in mind, I created a Winter Word Work center.

I used these adorable snowmen and women from Ashley Hughes for the letters.

In addition, I used this awesome winter themed digital paper from Striped Elephants to create cards with 24 common prefixes, 24 Greek & Latin roots/prefixes, and 24 suffixes.  Here is a sample of each.

Now, I am ready to use these materials for a variety of center work, small group work, and whole class demonstrations.

If you are interested in purchasing this product, you can do so here.

It's always fun to have new activities for the students to do during each season.  I will definitely post more about prefixes, suffixes, and root words.  This is a huge focus for us.  Let me know if you have any cool resources for these skills.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Peek at my Week

Hello Everyone!  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her fun linky, A Peek at my Week.

Lately, I have had a lot of trouble with my computers.  I bought a new computer in April, and the hard drive crashed in November.  After waiting three weeks, and thankfully using my (very) old computer, I was finally contacted by the manufacturer.  Long story short, I had to buy a new computer.  Ten days later, the new computer totally crashed.  I was able to return it without a problem.  However, I now had to set up yet another computer.  The good news is this one looks like a winner, and I have become very good at setting up computers.

Now that I have a working computer, I will be back to regular blogging beginning this week.

This year, I plan on spending New Years Eve with two of my fabulous nieces.  I am giving my brother and sister-in-law a night out while I get to spend quality time with my nieces.  Definitely a win-win!

My district has been great about supplying us with resources for word study.  One of my goals this week is to organize all of the resources into a fresh new binder.  I am off to a good start with this new cover.

I go back to work on Thursday.  Winter break is flying, but I am so grateful to go back to a job I love.  I will likely have students complete an activity related to New Year's resolutions.  I am thinking about incorporating poetry.  I will let you know what I come up with.

I am off to see what everyone else has planned for this week.  Enjoy your vacation!

Thank you, Jennifer for hosting this linky!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Awesome Reading Website

Hello Everyone!  Today I would like to share an awesome reading website.  I learned about this site at a recent district literacy committee meeting, and I am excited to share it. The website is called This website is free.  It is easy to log in and very user friendly.  When you go to the site, it looks like this.

If you click on the link "Reading Passages", you will see a list of passages in alphabetical order.

From here, you can customize your search by keyword, grade level, Lexile level, domain, and skill/strategy. 

After making your selections, you can choose from a list of reading passages.  Each reading passage comes with comprehension questions to match the skill/strategy selected.  

This site is great for formative or summative assessment of reading skills and strategies.  I also plan on using the passages for guided reading groups. I will use some of the questions provided, but other times, I will use the passages for different activities.  I am always looking for short passages to use in guided reading groups.  I will definitely spend some more time exploring this site.

I hope everyone has a great vacation next week!
Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Similes & Metaphors in "The Grinch Song"

Hello Everyone!  A while back, I read this post by Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens.  She talked about how she uses The Grinch Song to teach similes and metaphors.  I loved this idea (as well as other versions).  Here is my take on this activity.

We talk about similes and metaphors from the beginning of the year, pointing them out in read alouds, student writing, etc.  The first thing I do for this activity is play the song and have students listen for similes and metaphors.

Next, I hand out a copy of the words to the song and have students highlight similes and metaphors using two different colored highlighters.

After we go over the similes and metaphors, I play the song again and have students clap when they hear a metaphor and snap when they hear a simile.  I have used this activity the past two years, and the students really enjoyed it.  I am planning on using it again this year.

Earlier in the week, I read Jivey's post on Grinch activities.  She has students make literal drawings of the figurative language in this song.  I love this idea, and I will likely give it a try this year.

Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the week!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Peek at my Week

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her fun linky, A Peek at my Week.


First, and most importantly, I should get my computer back this week.  Although I am thankful my brother got my old computer into workable shape, it's uses are very limited.  I can't wait to start creating again!


This week, we will be talking about nonfiction structures.  One of my favorite nonfiction resources is Linda Hoyt's Exploring Informational Texts.

Linda Hoyt includes examples, attributes and key words for the different text structures.  This matches perfectly with the fourth grade Common Core standards.  I will be using these pages as a guide for creating anchor charts.

  She also includes suggested graphic organizers to use.  After I introduce the different structures to the students, I will incorporate the graphic organizers for different nonfiction texts.


This Friday, my school is sponsoring "Parents' Night Out".  We are offering to watch students from 6:00PM-10:00PM.  There will be a variety of activities from 6:00-8:00.  (My room will have karaoke!)  At 8:00, everyone will gather together and decide what movie they would like to watch.  The end of the night will be spent watching movies and eating popcorn.  I am in charge of this event.  Please let me know if you would like information about it for your school.  I would be happy to send it to you.

I am off to see what everyone else has planned for the week.  Thank you, Jennifer for hosting this linky!

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturday - Bonding with Personal Stories

Hello, Everyone!  Today, I am linking up with Joanne from Head over Heels for Teaching for her wonderful linky, Spark Student Motivation Saturday.


I believe that sharing personal stories about your life is a great way to bond with your students.  My students know that I am a runner, and they know when I race.  They know I am from a very large family with nine siblings and fourteen nieces and nephews.  They know I love Duke basketball, and that I am afraid of geese.  Don't get me wrong, I don't "overshare", but I believe that sharing some personal information goes a long way in strengthening teacher/student relationships.

Last week, I shared with my students that I was planning on adopting a dog.  We spent part of our morning meeting time looking at pictures and reading descriptions of dogs at the shelter.  We found dogs that were under 30 pounds, active, and good with children.  We ended up narrowing it down to two, and I chose Millie.  Students have asked me about her every day.  One student even brought in a leash for me!

We have so much to cover in our curriculum, that it can be difficult to remember the importance of building and maintaining a strong classroom community.  I believe that taking the time to bond with students both on an individual and classroom level is an invaluable way to motivate students to do their best.

On another note, I am participating in the Cyber Monday/Tuesday sale.  Most of the items in my TPT store are free, but all items that are for sale will be 28% off.  I hope you can find something you can use.

I am off to check out all the other motivating ideas.  Thank you, Joanne for hosting this linky.  Every week I get so many great ideas.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Introduction to Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am writing a quick post to share a video that I found.  After Thanksgiving, we are going to be working with prefixes, suffixes, and roots.  We will begin with a focus on suffixes.  Before we begin that focus, I wanted to review all three terms with the students.  I found this great video by Educational Rap to do just that.


I am looking forward to sharing some suffix resources in the near future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Peek at my Week

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for A Peek at my Week.

I am super excited about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday!  Here are a few other things I have to look forward to this week.


This week my students will present two projects they have been working on.  The first, Glogsters, you can read about here.  The second project is "A Monster in a Jar".  This is a super cute writing prompt by Klever Kiddos.  My students loved working on this project.  Here is a sample I found on Pinterest. 
Monster in a Jar
I revised this brainstorming sheet so it was more of an outline.  Student recorded ideas and wrote their first draft in their writing notebooks.  I made some special paper for their final copies.
(I will revise this post with the brainstorming sheet and final copy paper just as soon as I get my new hard drive for my "good" computer.)


My new puppy, Millie, will start her obedience training on Monday.  Wish me luck!


My students just earned a reward party using Teamwork Bingo, by Clutter-free Classroom.  This week we will decide what type of party we are having and when it will be.
Teamwork Bingo - Whole Class Behavior System FREEBIE  
Those are the big things I have planned.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Enjoy the break.  You deserve it!

I'm off to see what everyone else has planned for the week. Thank you, Jennifer for hosting this awesome linky!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturday - Glogsters

Hello, Everyone!  This has been a rough week for my computer.  Last Sunday, the hard drive completely crashed.  My incredibly awesome brother was able to salvage most of my files on a portable hard drive, but the computer is pretty much shot.  Luckily, my brother was able to get my old computer up and running well enough for me to link up with Joanne from Head Over Heels For Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturday.


Today, I would like to share an awesome website for creating projects.  The website is  We have just finished reading books from our realistic fiction unit, and now my students are ready to glog.  This project incorporates two of my favorite motivators: technology and choice.

A glogster is basically an electronic poster.  All of my students' glogsters are private, but here is a link to some samples.

The students are able to figure the site out in no time.  They can add pictures, graphics, videos, sound effects, and a huge variety of text boxes.

During our unit on realistic fiction, we have focused on story elements.  Students had the following requirements for their glogsters.

*Title and author
*Three character traits, with supporting evidence
*Describe one important setting
*Write a summary in the "Somebody, Wanted, But, Then, So, Finally" format.

In addition, students had to add three additional items to their glogs.  They had 12 different items to choose from including an award for a character, advice for a character, a different ending, and describe a connection.

(Due to my computer issues, I do not have access to the form I used at this time.  However, I will add it to the post as soon as I can.)

I'd also like to share a big motivator for myself from this week.  I adopted a dog from the shelter.  Her name is Millie, and I just love her!  She is a ball of energy, so being tired is not an option.  :)

Well, I am off to check out all the other motivating ideas.  Thank you, Joanne for hosting this awesome linky!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturday - Student Choice (in social studies)

Hello, Everyone!  Today, I am linking up with Joanne from Head over Heels for Teaching for her wonderful linky, Spark Student Motivation Saturday.

I believe one of the biggest student motivators is choice.  I give my students choice whenever possible, whether it's the book they read, a writing topic, type of project, ...

This week in social studies, we discussed some important post-Revolutionary War events.  I used our textbook and the Smart Board to load my students with some background knowledge on these events.  Students recorded page numbers and a few important facts on this foldable.

After hearing some general information, I had students write the three topics they were most interested in learning more about.  I divided the War of 1812 up into four categories, including two battles that we are required to cover: Beginning of the War, Battle of Thames, Battle of Lake Erie, End of the War.

I got lucky because I was able to give everyone their first or second choice.  I checked out our iPad cart (new to my school this year) and let students get to work on researching their event. 

The finished product will be a timeline.  My awesome partner created this form for each group to use.  (Students decorated the border to match their topic.)

Students had the opportunity to share what they learned with the class.  I definitely saw the benefits from student-directed learning and teaching.  I am looking forward to assembling the timeline.

Now, I am off to see all of the other great, motivating ideas.  Thank you, Joanne for hosting this awesome linky!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Expanding Independent Reading Choices

Hello, Everyone!  I am taking a break from my report cards to link up with Jivey from Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday.


This week's topic is sharing lesson ideas using chapter books.  The book I would like to share with you is Nightmare at the Bookfair, by Dan Gutman.

Nightmare at the Book Fair

This is a great book about a boy named Trip who is so into sports that he doesn't even consider getting enjoyment from reading.  When Trip is asked to help set up for the book fair, he reluctantly agrees.  A freak accident in the library knocks him unconscious.  While he is "out"', Trip ends up going through a series of adventures (dreams) in the format of different genres.  Here's a look at the table of contents to get an overview of Trip's adventures through books. 

When Trip comes to, he realizes that he "lived" through a variety of interesting books.  The story ends with Trip having an appreciation for reading.  Trip still loves sports, but he realizes the enjoyment that can come from reading as well.

This is a great book to use for one of my ultimate goals - promote a love of reading.  I also use this book to review the different types of genres and encourage students to try something new.

For the past couple of years, I have used this book as my first read aloud as we talk about different genres.  However, this year I really wanted to read Wonder first, so I am saving it for mid-year when we evaluate our reading.  In the middle of the year, students look at the books they have read and set goals.  I have them track the books they have read on their reading log.

You can get this log for free by clicking here.  (There is a back page included.)

I reward students with a prize card (sit at teacher's desk, seat swap, lunch with a bud, etc.) if they independently read 5 different genres.  I plan on using this book as a reminder of this reward system that was put in place at the beginning of the year, as well as a refresher for the different genres.

I'm off to see all the other great lessons using chapter books.   Thank you, Jivey for hosting this fun linky.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Peek at my Week (with a setting freebie)

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her fun linky, A Peek at my Week.

A big chunk of my week (as well as last week) will be spent on report cards.  In our district, we write narratives for each subject, so parents can get a clear idea of how their child is performing. I will finish up this week.

In reading, we will continue our focus on the influence of setting.  One book I love to use for teaching setting is The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders.

I absolutely love using poetry to teach reading and writing skills.  There are a couple poems in this book that I will use to model great word choice to describe settings.  Some of the poems describe real places, such as Monterey Bay.

Other poems describe fictional settings, such as Sarah Small's garden.

One activity that I love to do is read the poem, "In the Heart of South Dakota".  When I am reading this poem, I do not show students the picture.  After reading the poem, I have the students guess the setting of the poem.  (They always get it.)

After sharing poems throughout the week, I will have students play "Name that Setting".  Students will write a paragraph describing a common setting.  If they included enough detail, other students should be able to guess the setting.

You can get "Name that Setting" for free by clicking here.

That's a peek at what I'll be up to this week.  I am off to check out what everyone else will be up to.  Thank you, Jennifer for hosting this linky.  Make sure to stop by and see everyone's plans.

Have a great week!