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!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Peek at my Week, starting with a Must Read Mentor Text

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

We have been studying story elements in reading.  This week, we will focus on setting.  I am linking up with Amanda and Stacia from Collaboration Cuties to share a mentor text that works great for demonstrating how the setting can influence a story.

The book I would like to share is The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark.

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark

Have ever wondered what would happen if the setting of The Three Little Pigs changed to under the ocean?  This book shows how this setting changes my chinny chin chin to my finny fin fin (and other changes).

The first little fish is still not very bright, opting to make his house out of seaweed.  The shark was easily able to "munch and crunch" this house.

The second little fish was only slightly smarter, making his house out of sand.  Once again, the shark was able to "munch and crunch" this house.

The third little fish was the smart one of the bunch.  He made his home in an abandoned boat.

As you can see, the shark could not "munch and crunch" his way in here. Don't worry about him though.  He ended up changing his diet to seaweed.

Together, we will make a chart that compares this book to the original, The Three Little Pigs.

I love using this book to demonstrate the importance of setting.  After sharing this book, I have students rewrite another popular story in a different setting.  I have students complete this activity in their reading notebooks.

This story makes a great read aloud, and the students love it.  Here is a video of the book, if you prefer that format.

This Friday, I will celebrate my birthday.  I am looking forward to spending it with some of my closest friends.  Of course, I will have to get a new outfit for the occasion.  I will find some time this week to do a little shopping.  I have always been the type of person to celebrate my birthday.  I am incredibly grateful for the life I have!

I'm off to check out what everyone else is up to this week and to check out all the other great mentor texts.  Thank you, Jennifer, Amanda, and Stacia for hosting these wonderful linkies.

Thank you, and have a great week!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturday - More Online Games

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturday.

On a previous post, I talked about  This is a great site to create educational games.  Today, I would like to share another site I use to create educational games,

There is a wide variety of games you can create on this site.  The one I use most often requires you to type in definitions or other information, and then it generates three options for games.  You can click on the links below to try out the flashcards, matching game, and concentration I made to reinforce important information about the French and Indian War.

The first option for students is electronic flashcards.

I use the matching option most often with my students.

Finally, you test your memory by playing Concentration.

Another fun game on this site is Rags to Riches.  Students answer questions that become increasingly more challenging.  As soon as they miss one question, they have to start over.  The repetition is great for preparing for tests.  Click here to try the game I made for earthquakes and volcanoes.

Here are some links to math vocabulary games I made.  Feel free to use any of these, if you wish.  Some of these also include a word find.

There are other game options on this site that I will likely try in the near future.  I will make sure to let you know how they work out and share the links that seem the most helpful.

I love that I can create the games and send the link to parents.  I also link the games to my classroom website, so students can access the games from any computer.  This format seems to keep the students engaged and motivated to keep studying.

This is a paid site, but I am happy to be a subscriber.  The students' motivation made it worth it.

I'm off to check out all the other wonderful, motivating ideas.  Thank you, Joanne for hosting this great linky!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Character Changes on Freebie Friday

Hello, Everyone!  This week we have been focusing on how characters change in reading.  I started off by reading The Dot to my class.

The Dot

We had a great discussion about how Vashti changed in the story. Then, students completed an activity inspired by this pin from Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics.

Character changes - The Dot

Underneath the top section, I had students write and justify two character traits that Vashti demonstrated at the beginning of the book.  In the middle portion, students had to describe the turning point of the book.  Finally, under the bottom flap, students had to write two character traits that Vashti demonstrated in the end of the book. I loved the way these turned out.

Over the next several days, I had students complete similar writing activities in their reading notebooks.  I selected books that had clear examples of character changes.

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County
(I LOVE this book!)

The Old Woman Who Named Things
(One of my favorite authors!)

When it comes time to assess my students on this skill, I will use the story "Goodwill" from Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul.  This book is one of my "go to" books for finding short stories.  They tie in very well with our leadership/seven habits theme.

Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul: Stories of Courage, Hope and Laughter for Kids ages 8-12

Students will complete this organizer to demonstrate their understanding of how and why character traits can change over the course of a story.

You can download this organizer for free by clicking here.

Let me know if you have any mentor texts with great examples of character changes.  I always love hearing about new resources!

Thank you, and have a great weekend!