2016-2017 Classroom Revealed!

Sunday, September 25, 2016
This is the first year where I am in the same classroom two years in a row.... Woah!
Because of that, I did not really change major components of my classroom this year because it works. My organization is on point! One of the biggest reasons I did not change the decor in my classroom this year was because I could leave it up all summer. I did not have to pack up because of summer school, or switch to a different classroom so I decided to take it easy this year. I did get rid of my hideous couch pillows though. Thank you IKEA!

To explain my long absence.....
I have not posted since January! I feel terrible because this was such a big part of my life, but I recently started a doctoral program. I graduated in May with my master's degree in elementary education and jumped head first into an Ed.D in Curriculum, Teaching and Teacher Education program. I definitely feel that I made the right choice, but I am way to overwhelmed to be a frequent blogger. That being said, let's get to the pictures!

Historical Fiction Unit: Book Clubs

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The native american unit has been my FAVORITE unit so far this year, primarily because it the overall theme in reading, writing and social studies for six weeks. I love that it has ties in every subject because the kids really get invested!

Book Clubs:
Students break into groups of three or four and read native american historical fiction novels and have great discussions! I love book clubs, but with the added bonus of using books with a strong native american characters it was very successful. 

Step 1: Choice 
I laid out all of the books that were available for the students to preview the selection. They were allowed to choose three books that they might like to read during book clubs. I grouped my students based on reading level and I really tried to give them a book they were interested in. So many post-its! Among the 15 books titles, I made this list below!


I wrote all of the books down, and the students number next to their selection. I then grouped the students with a book title below. As you can see, there is always shuffling when making groups. I also got a new student (lucky number 13), so I made some changes including the book titles. 

Step 2: Club Names
Once the groups were selected, I used this fabulous resource by Butterflies and Daydreams! It is a huge 3-5 bundle of book club sheets. I mean, its like the holy grail of book club resources. If you do book clubs in grades 3-5, check this out. I promise you will not be disappointed. 


Step 3: Group Posters
Once my students are in their groups and ready to begin, I created Book Club Posters for each group. It included their calendar, contract, and group topics! This poster was great because I could see what their big points of discussion were and how many pages were being assigned each night. 

The group who read "The Sign of the Beaver" named themselves the Book Beavers! I thought that was the cutest group name... They also always had the BEST meetings. 

Step 4: Conferences 
My job was to go around and be the silent "fourth" member. I didn't participate because I know myself and I would go overboard with my own opinions. I silently took notes on the discussion, work habits, and who did the assigned reading. 

I like to leave my groups with a thinking question or give them a compliment on their hard work! Telling them how impressed I am with their work goes a long way! 

Tying into our Writing Curriculum:

My students wrote a three paragraph research paper at the end of the unit. They were broken into groups of three and four. Their group members were different for writing and social studies than in their reading book clubs. I like the variety of who they work with, and I group students together based on work habits and not reading levels for this activity.

I will go into more detail on this in a separate post: Research Writing: Native American Unit

Thanks for stopping by!

How To: Class Discussions {Freebie included!}

Monday, December 14, 2015
Organizing whole class, and small group discussions are always fun for me! I love when my students do the heavy lifting and talk to EACH OTHER instead of just talking to me.

I had my students read the book, "Smoky Night" by Eve Bunting and after reading it whole group, I had them get together and discuss the book. I gave them questions prior to the discussion and the rubric so that they are fully aware of the expectations.

Big Idea: "How do characters change?"
(This was our main question)
Using the book, "Smoky Night" by Eve Bunting.

I always like having my students have a copy of the text to refer back to, because after all we want them to REFER back to the text during their discussions. For this particular lesson, I was very lucky to find just the text for this book and hand that out to my students. Click here to download the text for this book.

Not only does this save paper, but it also puts the whole book on only a few pages! Sometimes, I just type out the story, or google the book to see if I can find just the text.

After reading the story, I broke my students into groups. Each group member had a different question prompt, to get each students thinking about a different character and how they changed throughout the story. My students had about 15 minutes to answer their prompt in their reading journals.

After their silent jot, I had the small groups discuss with each other their answers using the discussion rubric. This was really a practice round for the whole class discussion. The next day (since I only have 45 minute periods) my students reread their answers and had a whole class discussion about the characters in "Smoky Night" and how they changed throughout the story.

Click Here to Download this Freebie!

After the students talked about the characters in the story, they returned to their seats (I had them on the rug for this discussion). Each student had two stickies in their reading journals.

1. What is the most interesting thing someone said or mentioned?
2. Using the rubric, rate yourself 1, 2, 3, 4

For a copy of the sticky labels (printed on address labels) click here!

I love when my students reflect on their conversational skills, because sometimes they are brutally honest and other times they are very generous with their self scoring. I had a good variety of self assessment, from 1 through 4 with many of my students marking themselves a 3. 

There are many things I want to improve for our next conversation, including some exemplar videos or responses, but in the end I was so proud of my students and their higher level thinking skills! 

December Pinterest Picks {Linky Party!}

Thursday, December 3, 2015
December is here! I love this month because not only is it the holidays BUT also our school is just so beautifully decorated and the kids and faculty alike are in great moods.  I am linking up again with Pawsitively Teaching and the Inspired Owl's Corner  for December's Pinterest Top Picks. 
Let's Do This! 

How cute is this! I am planning on doing an activity very similar to this, just including a short writing about what they are looking forward to this holiday. If you love this as much as I do, the template for this can be found over at Surfin' in Second Grade

 It wouldn't be fair to go the whole month without watching the Polar Express while drinking hot chocolate right? In this ADORABLE pack, I could make the movie a bit more educational and still enjoy the holiday spirit. Check this out {for FREE} by clicking here.

Next up......
Don't these look good enough to eat!?!? I'll have to pick up some play dough ASAP to make these cute decorations and ornaments in my classroom. My students are going to have so much fun making these! For the recipe and idea, check out 123homeschool4me

I am really starting to get into the spirit of Christmas and the holidays! I can't wait to post the photos of my Christmas/Hanukkah decor that my students picked out... Stay tuned! 

If you have ANY cute ideas for the holidays, please let me know down below I am scrabbling to bring in the holiday spirit. Thanks! 

December Currently!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
It's a new month already! Wow... how the time has flown by. I cannot believe December is here and the holiday season has begun. I am linking up again with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this month's currently.

Here we go...

I am totally in the holiday spirit, my tree is up and my christmas station on pandora is going strong. I'll get sick of the Christmas music in..... let's say two week. Until then, I'm 100% on board with the holidays this year.

I picked up scarves for my nieces on Black Friday, and let's say I'll have to buy them something else. I couldn't help myself and wore them to work. It's ok though, it was just a small gift and I'll buy them something nicer.

I am very fortunate that December 18th is my last day before winter break. I cannot wait to have a few days off prior to Christmas to do last minute shopping and wrapping. My current mantra is "three more weeks!"

I desperately want new boots. My beautiful black boots I bought years ago seem to have a pin hole in the sole. When I walk in rain, my socks immediately get soaked. It's time for new boots, Marshalls here I come.

I need a star to go on top of my Christmas tree! We put it up two days after Thanksgiving and it was the first year that my son helped me decorate the tree. He's three now and it was definitely an adorable moment and he only broke two ornaments in the process. I call that a win.

Speaking of trees, my tree is a faux! We bought it on Black Friday for a great price and it looks amazing. I love the smell of a real tree, but I just don't like cleaning up after one. Plus, now I have a tree for as many years as I want.

I hope everyone  has a wonderful holiday!

Reading and Writing Goals {Pictures Included!}

Monday, November 30, 2015
I know I'm totally late, but Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It has been a crazy month, and I even got a new student today so I have been a bit scattered. I took these photos ages ago and now I am finally getting around to putting this post up. 

I love visual goal setting. Just throwing it out there... I am a huge fan of students having flexible, attainable goals to continue to go back to when working on their ELA skills. I honestly cannot remember where I found this on Pinterest, BUT it is genius! On my Workshop board, which includes Reader's and Writer's Workshop, I have our current novel. Along with the novel cover, I have a quote from the author and a photo, and other books by the author. My students love the display and even look through the library to find other books by our current author.

As you can see, we have writing goals and reading goals. The goals themselves are flexible and change when the students have mastered them. Also, my students have their name on a pencil or a book that can be easily changed when the move onto another goal. I have a wide variety of writers and readers and this display is great because it shows that everyone has something to work on. Goals range from simple editing to adding details for writing, and fluency to annotating in reading. I also enjoy not have to swap out my bulletin board as often since these are skills we are working on long term. 

How do you track goals? Are they displayed or private? 

In other news.... I got the new Keurig 3.0 machine! It was on sale and I had to splurge. My son bent the needle in our old machine and I used it as an excuse to upgrade. Isn't it amazing?!?!? I find myself making more coffee daily, and I only had to make one pot during Thanksgiving dinner. I love the flexibility of the carafe or single cup. 

Until next time...

November Currently...

Sunday, November 1, 2015
So its been a while..... I've been so busy lately working at my new school. Not to mention my courseload, the kids, and adjusting to a longer commute. BUT I have made the time today to post for Oh' Boy Fourth Grade's Currently.

My husband LOVES football! Honestly, I was never really that into it. (I hope he doesn't read this!) We watch every game that broadcasts here on the East Coast and I don't really mind it that much anymore because I get a lot of school work done.

I am LOVING seeing my fall clothes again! Oh how I missed my fall wardrobe.... Sweaters, corduroy, scarfs, oh my! Ahhh.... fall is my favorite season of the year.

Although I am happy fall is really settling it, it is almost the end of the first marking period here (uh... next week?!?!) I am almost done writing our narratives, or comments as it known is most schools. We don't have a traditional grading system, which means each student gets a rubric and a narrative report of their progress. It comes out to about one and a half pages her child. It's not too bad actually and I really get to speak about each child's progress instead of just posting an A or a B on their report cards.

I'm dying for a new winter coat by the way. I bought one a few years ago to go to Canada for Thanksgiving with my husband and it's pretty heavy duty. I want a more sleek wool coat for the winter and I have my eye on one... Just waiting for a coupon or a sale, which ever comes first.

I am procrastinating right now because I should be writing my paper for my class, but I am here writing this post. Whoops. I'm just excited because I have only a few more weeks until the end of this semester. Much needed because I am exhausted.

Lastly, did I mention that I love fall? Bring on the pumpkin spice! I'm gluten free, so I can't really eat the pie, but I can drink the coffee!

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