Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guided Reading Dilema!

Hi Everyone! I read a great post from Mrs. Patton yesterday about how she is loving doing reading conferences as opposed to typical guided reading. Two years ago, after I read the CAFE book for the first time, I implemented reading conferences in addition to guided reading groups. I remember thinking they were so efficient and effective - got right to what each student needed and I could move through a conference much quicker than a guided reading group. Since then, I have gone back to doing regular guided reading groups, which after what I said about my reading conferences, you may be thinking, why? I don't really know. I think part of me thinks guided reading is "best practice" so I should stick to that - and part of me thinks the conferences worked so well because I did them the year I looped up to 2nd with my old 1st graders. 

Anyway, I would love some advice/ suggestions/ to hear what works for all of you. This year I am feeling like my kids are making normal progress, but I'm not totally satisfied with my guided reading groups. With my lower couple groups, I feel like I'm not getting to all the different components of the lesson because reading the book is taking so long. Does that mean I'm choosing the wrong books? Just letting them read for too long? Or would they be better off meeting with me individually? And for my highest couple of groups, I feel like - what are they really getting out of a guided reading group? I find it so difficult to teach comprehension strategies during a 15-20 minute guided reading session. How do you gals do it? I have done book clubs/ lit circles in the past, but they are just not taking off this year so far. Maybe I need to keep trying...Sometimes it just feels like I try to cram way too much in from 9:15-11:00 (our literacy block) - and the kids just can't do it all and get enough out of ALL of it.  

Right now, I am thinking about leaving one round of Daily 5 a day open to conference with students who are reading to self. During that time, I hope to reach my higher students. What do you think?!

I'm really looking forward to reading what works for all of you! Your suggestions and thoughts are sooo appreciated! 

Hope you're all having a great week!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Hi Friends! Hope you all have had a great weekend - mine flew by! February is an exciting month for us because it means we are going to study African American history and other important Americans through the lens of the biography! I just added a biography writing/ cross-curricular packet to my TPT store. You can get it for just $3.50 here

I will be posting pics of how we are using it in the next few weeks! Sorry this post is so short - I just have so much to do today! Anyone watching the season finale of Kim and Kourtney Take NY tonight? Thoughts????

Monday, January 23, 2012

Predictions and Snowmen

Hi friends! Here are the rest of the pics I promised you yesterday. We have really been working on using text evidence to support our predictions and then changing them as we get new evidence. Here is a look at a couple DRTAs kids did while I read The Mitten. It was great because no one had read the story before! There job was to make a prediction, write the evidence (then I read a little and stopped a few pages later), write either confirmed evidence or the story outcome. Then they wrote their new prediction on the next row down, along with their evidence from the text...I love DRTAs!

The next day we filled out this mitten, which is an idea I stole from Cara over at The First Grade Parade (amazing). Mine is not nearly as cute or legible as hers, but my kids loved the giant mitten nonetheless. Today we actually came back to the lovely mitten to fill in blanks I wrote in the "events" section for the verbs Jan Bret used to tell how the animals got inside the mitten. They loved acting out "lumbered" and "wriggled" and "nosed" (and pretty much all of them). We will revisit this mitten next week when we talk about using the 5 finger retell during "read to someone." 

Last week, my kids practiced making and changing their predictions based on text evidence using 3-4 post-its during read to self with a self-selected book they had never read before. They turned out great!

Here is our latest how-to writing. I used this adorable craft I saw somewhere on pinterest and/or someone's blog to teach more about how-to writing. We really honed in on word choice and being exact with our directions. 

I tried to get some close-ups, but it still looks pretty hard to read....sorry about that!

That's all for now. Hope you all are having a great Monday. I'm off to the gym :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What We've Been Up To! Pics and new units

 This week was filled with how-to writing, more matter, and making predictions. I forgot to take pics of the predictions activities...so I'll have to post them tomorrow. But for now here's what we have been doing in science and writing!

As you know we are studying matter in science. Last week we investigated the properties of solids by building a tower of solids and then writing about how they were able to use the solids in different ways to build the tallest tower possible. We had a great discussion about how certain properties led us to use solids for different parts of the tower. (the cups are able to balance because of flat sides, the rubber band could hold two things together because it is stretchy...) 

Next, we talked about how to measure solids. We compared solids by measuring length and mass using rulers and balances. It was great when they found 2 solids that had the same length but different masses! It was also great measurement practice too as we measured to the nearest inch and centimeter! 

 As the week wrapped up we started our conversation about liquids and the many different properties of liquids by doing my "mystery liquids" activity. I put 6 different liquids into 6 containers and my students rotated through the liquids to investigate properties of liquids. I chose milk, hand soap, juice, water, coke, and dishwashing soap. These activities and more are included in my matter unit on my TPT store if you want to download them :) 

We have been working on how-to writing in writer's workshop. Last week we went outside to make snow angels....they had a blast!! Then we came back inside, talked about how we made the snow angels, reviewed the structure of a paragraph, and wrote a paragraph teaching how to make a snow angel. I think they turned out so cute! We also made a little craft to go with it - glue mixed with shaving cream and a sprinkle of glitter :)

This writing activity can be found in my newest addition to my TPT store! I also added a blends center activity and a Guide to Guided Reading Packet!

Please let me know what you think - I hope you like them!! :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Love to Joplin

Could there be a better idea for a linky party? Mrs. Wills is having a linky party to send teachers in Joplin, MO products from out TPT stores. Teachers are so generous! I have seen this heart nonstop for the past few days, and finally made it over to Mrs. Wills blog today...only to find out almost 100 teachers have linked up! I just sent a couple of my packets to help out. Join the fun!

A Day in the Life

It's been so fun to read about everyone's daily schedules! So I thought I would link up with Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher to tell you what my typical day looks like :)

6:00 - Alarm goes off! I am not pleased how dark it is outside (you'd think I'd be used to it by now), but reluctantly get out of bed and head to the shower.

6:15ish: Get dressed...and everything else

6:40ish- Out the door and in my car.

7:00ish- Daily stop at Starbucks - I love my coffee!

7:15-7:30- Arrive at school, unlock my door, and take out my list of things to do

7:30 - 8:50 - make copies, get guided reading plans organized, change math work stations cards, get any manipulatives out and organized for math/ science, find read alouds/ prepare materials for mini-lessons, sharpen pencils, re-tape things to the walls that fell (does anyone else have walls that nothing sticks to??)...

8:55- bell rings, pick up kids from cafeteria

9:00-9:15 - kids eat breakfast in the classroom, turn in homework, choose new take home book, work on the math message, make their daily 5 choices, put backpacks and coats away...while I take attendance, check-in homework, do the breakfast and lunch count, and solve any mini-crises that come up before 9:15 :)

9:20: Phonics Dance chant

9:25 - 9:40 - First mini-lesson (usually comprehension)
9:40-10:00- First Round of Daily 5/ Guided Reading Group
10:00-10:10 - Second Mini-lesson (rotates between vocab, word wall, decoding/ accuracy strategy, fluency strategy, and learning new routines/ activities to be placed at a D5 station 
10:10-10:30 - Second Round of Daily 5/ Guided Reading Group
10:30-10:40 - 3rd mini-lesson (usually phonics dance)
10:40-11:00 - Third Round of Daily 5/ Guided Reading Group

11:00 - Lunch!

11:20 - Science

11:45 (or on Wed. 12:20)- Math 

12:43 - Specials

1:21: Word Study

1:45 - Writer's Workshop

2:30 - Get ready to go home

2:45 - Dismissal

Wow, I get tired just thinking about it! 

2:45-3:00 - Sit/ Breathe :)

3:00- 4:00 (sometimes later) - get ready for the next day!

So thankful for MLK day tomorrow! Enjoy the 3 day weekend!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

100th Day Packet

Hi Bloggie Friends! I don't know why, but I'm in a great mood for some reason! It's definitely not the weather - it's freezing here in Chicago!! Maybe it's the yoga class I did this morning... Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know I just posted my 100th Day Packet on TPT. I think it's really cute, but for whatever reason, the thumbnails look like the formatting is all off - so I had to choose the best ones, which maybe aren't the ones I would have normally chosen. Has anyone else had that problem? Anyway, if you check it out, let me know what you think of the packet! I think it's useful because most of the activities can be used on any other day of the year as well :) Hope you're all having a great weekend! Is anyone excited for the Denver Tebow/Patriots game later?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And the Winner is....

Amy!!! From the Resource(ful) Room! Congratulations!! Check your email - you should have a gift certificate waiting. If not, please email me asap!

Thanks everyone for playing in my first giveaway. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the kind words of support and encouragement. You all are the best! I've even found some great blogs I didn't know about before - I love that! OK - off to bed!

Just 5 More Hours to Enter!

My giveaway ($25 to TPT) ends tonight at my bedtime...which is around 10ish. I'll post the winner tonight! Enter here! I was thinking earlier that I wish I could enter my own giveaway - there are so many great things out there right now! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Matter...plus $25

Just in case you don't read all the way to the end of this post...I am feeling generous and am changing my giveaway from $10 to TPT to $25 to TPT!!!!!! YAY! So don't forget to enter here :)

Anyway...We kicked off our matter unit on yesterday with a great idea from Jill at Marvelous Multiagers. I printed out clipart of matter-ish things, taped them on butcher paper, and then I told my students they had 5 minutes (which turned into 10) to write anything and everything they saw or could say about the picture. I wrote the words "matter," "solid," "liquid," and "gas" on the board to get their juices flowing. After the silent writing we had a quick discussion about some of the things they wrote/ thought and I tried to get them to explain why they thought something was a gas or why they thought something was melting...It was a great first day! The inevitable misconception that "all solids are hard" came up, which led perfectly into today.

Today we sorted solids with a bag of solids I prepared and a sorting circle. Before the activity started we came up with words to go with texture, size, shape, and color by observing and touching the solids in the bag. My students were in groups of 2s and 3s and took turns sorting the solids for color, size, shape, or texture. The other group members had to guess how the solids were sorted. After the sorting we came back together to figure out what a solid really is. It was difficult for my students to find a commonality between all solids until they compared solids to water (we haven't talked about liquids yet, but they unanimously agreed water is a liquid). They were then able to come up with the idea that "water can't break because it isn't...." and then someone else added, "there isn't a shape," and then I said, "until it is put into a..." and they called out, "cup" "solid" "bucket" - I was so glad they were getting it! I then wrote up our notes onto an anchor chart to refer back to.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Few Freebies...

This is going to be a quick post because The Bachelor is starting...(I know - it's pretty lame, but I kinda love it). It seems like all 2nd grade teachers are working on matter right about now. I have a few freebies for you to download if you want and I also posted a matter packet on my TPT store for just $2.00. I don't know how to make/ upload those cute small versions to post on here yet, so please check out the preview on TPT. Sorry about that! Also, don't forget to enter my first giveaway - for $10 to TPT :)

Here is a link to the Matter Vocab cards, Mystery Liquids Activity and Matter Word Sort (I got the idea from 3rd grade Thinkers)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

100 Follower Giveaway!!!

I reached 100 followers!!!!!! I started blogging about 6 months ago, having no idea where it would lead me, and I just can't believe (without being too dramatic) how it has changed my life. I have been introduced to so many amazing, generous, and supportive teachers who have given me sooooo many creative and innovative ideas, and I just can't thank you all enough! In honor of my new TPT shop, I am going to give away a $10 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers. 

All you have to do is:

1. Be a follower and leave a comment (and email address)
2. Follow my TPT store and leave me a comment (and email address)

The giveaway will end on Wednesday evening (before I go to sleep). I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner. 

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend (for some of us our first day back is tomorrow!)!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Teachers Pay Teachers Store

I am so excited and also a little anxious because I just opened my own Teachers Pay Teachers Store! I can't believe it! I honestly would have never even thought of doing this at this time last year - mostly because I had no idea it existed, but also because I had no idea how to create things on my computer. I can't tell you what an inspiration so many teacher bloggers have been to me - Amy Lemons, Hope King, Abby from the Inspired Apple, and Erika Bohrer to name a few. I still have A LOT to learn about creating - making things cute - I am really slow at the computer :) 

Anyway, I am going to post a bunch of freebies and I have one unit up for sale! Check it out if you have time. I'd love feedback!!!