Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Poetry in the Writing Workshop

Hello, Everybody!  I am on Spring Break this week, and it is flying!  I am trying to get in as much as I can, including catching up with some wonderful bloggers!  Today, I am linking up with Jivey, from Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday.


This week's topic is poetry in the writing workshop.  Let me tell you, I have a weakness for books in general, but one of my biggest weaknesses is poetry.  There are so many unique/funny/thoughtful... poetry books to choose from.  Today, I am going to share how I use one of my favorites, Dogku.

Just as the name implies, this is a book of Haiku poems that are all about dogs.  Here are a couple of examples of these fun poems.

Before I share this book with the students, we talk about what a Haiku poem is.  After sharing examples from the book, we "prove" they are Haiku by counting the syllables.  After we finish with the poems from the book, we work together to come up with examples to be posted in the classroom as a reference.  Finally, students are ready to write their own Haiku.  Here is the form I give students to draft their poem.

(Clip art by Ashley Hughes, Font by Hello Literacy, and border by Fabulous Firsts)

You can download this form for free here, if you are interested.

We go through a similar process for several different types of poems, including free verse.  Poems are typed and printed on the students' choice of decorative paper.  When we are finished, they are allowed to publish their book in our school's publishing center.
I can't wait to check out all the other awesome ideas for using poetry in writing workshop.  Thank you, Jivey for hosting this awesome linky!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunshine Award

I want to send a huge thank you to Angela at The Teacher's Desk 6 for nominating me for the Sunshine Award.  I am truly honored to receive this nomination!

Here are the rules for this award.

1. Post 11 random facts about yourself

2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.

3. Nominate 11 bloggers you think bring sunshine to the world
4. Make up 11 questions for your nominations to answer.

 11 Random Facts

1.  I am the second oldest of 10 children.  My oldest brother is 45, and my youngest brother is 25.  There were no multiple births or adoptions.
2.  I love gardening.  Snapdragons are my favorite flower to plant because they tend to last the longest.
3.  I have been bungee jumping - well, sort of - It was one of those sling shots.
4.  I have a minor in Spanish, and I taught it for a year in a private school.
5.  I have run in 3 marathons.  My goal was to finish in under four hours.  My last time (2001) was 3:59:56.  I am now "retired" from marathons, but I have run in at least a dozen half marathons since then.
6.  My dream vacation is to go to Spain.
7.  I prefer action movies to chick flicks 100% of the time.
8.  I am a huge Duke basketball fan.  (Yes, even after this year's tournament.)
9.  I shop local whenever possible.
10.  I never paint my fingernails.  I am far too active.  It just never lasts more than a couple of hours.  Even the gel manicures only last about three days.  It's just not worth it.
11.  I love learning new things, especially when they present a challenge at first.

11 Answers to Angela's Questions
1.  Describe your teaching style.
I incorporate as many hands on and active learning activities as I can.  I try to run my class as student directed as possible, but that is an area where I would like to continue to working on.  I love learning about new technology, even though I get overwhelmed by it at times.
2.  What is your favorite non-teaching thing to do?
Definitely spending time with my family and friends.
3.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
If family, friends, my awesome job, etc. were not factors, I would choose to live in Hawaii.  I was there on vacation once.  It was amazing!
4.  What are your three most favorite things.
I am not going to count religion, family, and friends, because they are the most obvious answers.  So I'm really answering my fourth, fifth and sixth favorite things which would be my puppy, my job, and my house.
5.  If you could change anything about the school calendar, what would it be?
I would exchange some of my summer vacation for more sporadic days off during the school year.  I would rather have ten extra long weekends and cut summer two weeks short.  I just feel so refreshed after a long weekend.
6.  If you could be a color, what color would you be?
Pink - I don't know of a happier color.
7.  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
It definitely depends on the situation and the company.
8.  What is your least favorite thing to do?      
Rake leaves.  I enjoy most household tasks, especially ones that are outside, but this is one I am seriously considering hiring out.
9.  What started you blogging?
I was totally inspired by all the great bloggers out there.  I am so glad I started.  It has proven to be some of the very best professional development ever. 
10.  How did you choose your blog name?
I combined two of my greatest passions:  fitness and teaching fourth grade.
11.  Do you have a vice?
Yes,  caffeine.

I will work on my 11 questions and 11 bloggers to nominate and post them soon.  Thank you, Angela for nominating me for this award.  It means a lot to be recognized by a fellow blogger!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making Words, with a Freebie

Hello, Everyone!  My students love making words.  When they asked me to create some more of these activities for the classroom, I was more than happy to oblige.  We are on spring break this week, so I created this activity for part of word work last week.

(Border by The Clip Art Factory, and the font is by Hello, Literacy.)

You can pick this freebie up by clicking here.

I also made a couple of centers for students to practice making words.  The first one has a spring theme.  Students can arrange the letters from eight "Spring Things" to create a variety of words.  In the end, they try to combine all of the letters to guess the mystery word.   I included a recording sheet and word list for this activity.

You can pick up this activity by clicking here.

I made an additional center with a sports theme.  There are two words for each of the following sports: basketball, baseball, soccer, and football.  The digital paper used signifies what sport it is.  I also included three general sports words in this activity.  

This activity is also available at my TPT store.  You can get it by clicking here.

Have a great week!
Thank you!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spark Student Motivation Saturdays

Hello, Everybody!  Today is my first day of spring break.  I have a to do list a mile long, but most importantly, I am looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends.

Today I am linking up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her awesome linky, Spark Student Motivation Saturday

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post about some reading projects that were going on in my classroom.  The students and I discussed the goals of their reading group and came up with a project to match their goals.

One book, The Trumpet of the Swan (Guided Reading level R), decided to do a scrapbook on Louis' life.

Product Details 

This was working out great, until they saw some of the other groups.  Then, two of them wanted to switch to a Power Point, and one wanted to have part of hers on a Glogster.  (The fourth student wanted to keep working on the scrapbook.) We talked about how they could keep the same goals with their new project.  They got a new burst of enthusiasm and ended up doing a great job.

Although the combination of projects made scoring them slightly more challenging, I allowed for the change in projects because I knew it would be motivating for the students.  There are times, when I have to keep things "as is", but I truly believe that the more ownership students have, the better they perform.   

It may be cheating to write about two things, but I really wanted to thank Joanne for inspiring me to find a new way to use a great resource.

A few weeks ago, I read this post by Joanne on how she uses finger lights during reading.  I have used these for a while now during guided reading groups for students to "put the spotlight on" things like new vocabulary words or evidence in the text.


The students and I love using these lights to highlight particular parts of reading.  I had bought several sets of six at the beginning of the year. (I don't remember where, but I think it was at one of the dollar stores.)  However, after reading Joanne's post, I decided that I must get more and try out "Flashlight Friday".  I found this set of 80 on Amazon for $11.99.

These are actually much better than the ones that I originally bought.They are much easier to turn on and off.

Last week was our first Flashlight Friday using these lights.  For once, I was grateful for a cloudy morning because the room was really dark and students could see the full effects of the lights.  I am definitely planning to continue doing this every week.

Thank you, Joanne for another great idea and for hosting this awesome linky!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lovin' It & Over It

Hello, Everyone!  Today I am linking up with Ali from Teaching Powered by Caffeine for her fun linky, Lovin' It and Over It

I love this idea for a linky, and I love how Ali keeps it open all week, so you can link up at any time.

I am loving long walks with my puppy.  She was a stray and a real challenge to follow my lead when we started walking.  (I rescued her in November.) There have been a couple of things that have made our walks much more fun.  First, the weather has helped tremendously.  It's a lot easier to control her without the ultra thick gloves on.  Second, my trainer recommended this lead.
The Canny Collar worked wonders on the pulling.  Millie is by no means the perfect walker, but this has helped tremendously, and I strongly recommend it if your pup is not heeling properly.  It was a little battle putting it on the first couple of times, but now she gets excited when I get it out because she knows she's walking.  After walking 2-4 miles, I am amazed at how much energy/adreneline she has when we first get home.  However, after about 30 minutes, this is what I get.

I'm definitely loving it!

I am so over the Kardashians!  I just don't understand the fascination with someone else's day to day life.  I have my own life to focus on, and that keeps me plenty busy!  I admit, I have never watched the show, so I may be missing something.  (I will probably never find out.)  It's definitely bad when I am over a show that I've never even seen.  The media coverage they receive is insane.  I just don't get it.

I'm going to head over to Ali's blog and check out what others are loving and over.  Thank you, Ali for hosting this fun linky!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Made It

Hello, Everyone!

Today, I am linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for her creative linky, Monday Made It.

I love this linky!  There are so many creative people out there.  Many of the decorations and activities in my classroom have been inspired by Tara and other wonderful teachers who have linked up.

Over our (many) snow days, I was (finally) able to read Teach Like a Pirate.


If you have not read this book yet, I strongly recommend it!  There are so many great ideas to enhance student engagement.  I read a post from Sara at The Colorful Apple, where she put all the wonderful lesson hooks from this book on a ring.  I loved this idea when I saw it, and I loved it even more after I read the book.  I now have all my lesson hooks linked right in my lesson plan binder.  Thank you, Sara for sharing this!

Digital paper by Ashley Hughes.

***I am usually very good about tracking where I find ideas, but I can not remember who originally posted this idea.  If it was you, please let me know!

I cut and laminated these wonderful context clue task cards by Rachel Lynette.  I love using task cards for games, small group review, and centers.

I made some activities for my students to practice figurative language, specifically working with the meanings of  similes, metaphors, and idioms.

You can read my blog post about these activities here.  If you are interested in purchasing them, you can do so here.

Finally, I made a making words activity for spring.  I will blog about this soon (and include a freebie). If your are interested, this activity is currently available in my TPT store here.

***Both of these products will be 20% off today and tomorrow! 

I am running an after school program to practice for the OAA.  I made some cards to practice some key words in directions.  You can read how I use them here, and download them for free here.

I'm off to check out all of the other great Made Its.  I can't wait to see what everyone else has made.  Thank you, Tara for host this fun linky! 

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Peek at my Week

Hello, Everybody!  Last week was super busy! In  addition, Life (outside of school) threw me a couple of curve balls. I think I have everything in order now, but not without a little help (okay, a lot of help) from my dearest friends and family members.  I thought I'd share my favorite quote for weeks like this, because we all have them at some point.

Now, on to my post.  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her fun linky, A Peek at my Week.

This is our last week before spring break, so we will spend the week wrapping up concepts and getting ready for our next units.  We are also continuing with our after school OAA practice.

Students will finish their reading projects and present on Thursday.  Our wonderful principal is joining us for the presentations, so the students are extra excited!

This will be week two for our OAA after school practice.  The first 15 minutes are spent on test taking strategies and vocabulary.  We are focusing on reading on Monday and math on Wednesday.  We are trying to make these sessions as engaging as possible.

On Monday, I am going to use the random generator on the SMART Board to divide the students into groups of four.  Their task will be to take 12 vocabulary/direction words and match them with the definition.  They will work together, but they need to do so silently.  When they are finished, they are to raise their hand.  One of the teachers will come around and say how many are correct, without saying which ones are wrong.   Students will continue working until they have all the matches correct.  When a group is finished, they may use the cards to play concentration while they are waiting for others.

Here are the cards I plan on using for this activity.

I made them with eight different backgrounds to make it easier to keep track of them.  Here is one more set.  (Papers by Ashley Hughes & font is from Hello Literacy.)

You can download them (for free) here, if you are interested.

If anyone has suggestions to make test taking practice more engaging, I'd love to hear them!

Thank you, Jennifer for hosting this linky.  I always enjoy seeing what everyone has planned.