Sunday, February 26, 2012


In honor of leap year, I am joining many bloggers and teachers in having a sale on my TPT store. All of my products will be 20% off from Monday the 27th-Wednesday the 29th. On Wednesday though, the products will be an additional 10% off if you use the code: L2P9Y
It's going to be AMAZING! 

This past week was pretty great - we did a lot of inferring, an author study on Ezra Jack Keats to go with our African American history unit. If you haven't checked out Abby's inferring units, I highly suggest it. She has some amazing ideas! Here are some pictures of what we did!

My students loved using the evidence to infer what Tim did on his snow day!

These questions led to some great discussion about what really happened on the snow day! We also made a time line, which led to more great discussion, but I forgot to take a pic!

Our culminating project for the Ezra Jack Keats author study was making our own goggles (made with 4 pipe cleaners) and writing our own Goggles story (inspired by Goggles) and illustrating by collaging color, magazines, and different kinds of paper, like Keats. My students were so into it and the stories are hilarious! Some students changed the goggles from motorcycle goggles to swimming goggles, regular eye glasses, and ski goggles! I am in the process of putting together a packet for the author study, so stay tuned for that :)

This was just a quick turn and talk activity we did after we read about 5 of his books and watched a brain pop video. 

I am really excited about this week! We are celebrating the 100th day of school on Monday and then Seuss day on Friday! I think it's going to be a crazy week, so hopefully I'll be back with a post at some point soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oral Reading Fluency

Hi Everyone! I've been a little MIA lately - sorry about that! My sister was in town this weekend, which was so much fun, but needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot of work done :) 

I wanted to talk a little about fluency. Do you all do DIBELS? We do, and I have very mixed emotions about it - mostly negative. I will say though, the numbers don't lie on the oral reading fluency snapshot and the data can be somewhat useful. In the past, I haven't worried too much about my students' fluency rates because my philosophy has been that as my students reading levels improve, their reading rates will come along with it. Just to give you a little insight into my school, I usually have between 8-12 students reading at level B/C entering 2nd grade. However, this year it dawned on me reading development can work the opposite way too - that possibly improving my students' fluency rates will improve their reading levels. I have a group of students this year that really need improvement in their sight word recall and more than that their ability to read two, three, and four sight words in a row fluently. Because of that, I made a packet of "fluency phrases." They have been working well during guided reading and I even have some of my students using them with partners and independently during Daily 5 time. I put the fluency phrases into a packet and uploaded them to my TPT store to share with you all!  Here is a preview of what they look like. I know I'm a little late on the winter thing, but better late than never, right?! I am working on spring phrases right now - so hopefully they will be ready before summer ;)

They are $2.50 at my TPT store, but the first person to comment on this post can have them for free :) Just leave me your email address!

On another note, I saw this at Ms. Rachel's Room...I thought it was so funny, I had to share:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our Day in Pictures

Happy Valentine's Day!! I hope you all survived the day of candy (I had to throw away full apples and hearts of chocolate, otherwise I might have eaten them!)!! We had school off yesterday, so I'm trying to cram a lot into yet another 4 day week :) During our African American history unit, we've been studying scientists and inventors. Today we made our own inventions. I have to say, for whatever reason, this went so much better than last year! The kids had so much fun coming up with an idea for an invention and filling out their patent applications. I kept hearing kids say, "This is the best day ever," and we hadn't even gotten to the Valentine's day activities! 

Here are the materials

 Here are some kids hard at work

 This is an example of the patent application (in my African American history unit on TPT)

 More supplies

 Here is on student's invention: the automatic pencil dispenser! 

 Here's another invention: the tv that talks to you!

Next we were on to math. Today we did an investigation with conversation hearts. Before the lesson I put about a bag and a half of hearts into 6 zip-lock bags. The task was to count the hearts. What I was really getting at was - HOW they were going to count the hearts. Were they going to count by 1s, 10s, 100s? Would they make groups? Work together? Assign jobs? I gave them absolutely no suggestions. All 6 of my groups did it differently! It was exactly what I hoped for - and led to a great conversation about place value and "friendly" numbers.

 Here is a group putting hearts into piles of 10

 This group counted by 10s first, but then by 50s since there were 5 kids in their group (a student told me this).
This is what the boy at the bottom of the photo was writing in his journal after they all had formed a pile of 10.

 This group put their hearts into bags of 50 (the only group that used baggies) and then counted by 50s.

 This was the cutest thing ever! Last week, one of my students started writing "secret valentine" notes to our class. My class was going crazy trying to figure out who it could be! They kept thinking it was me haha. How cute are these notes?!

 Last week we really honed in on George Washington Carver and did some writing (in my TPT unit too). I know the bulletin board doesn't have a title yet (any ideas?) and only half of my class's Georges fit on the board - the others are on our door. 

I hate to change the mood to sad, but I just feel like I have to acknowledge it... I am still in shock about Whitney Houston...I couldn't believe it when I heard the news, and I still can't believe it...sooo sad. God's plan can be really surprising to say the least (but at least we know it's a good one!).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

31 and a Valentine's Freebie

Remember how I said my teacher bag is about 3 threads away from snapping......well yesterday when I was walking to my car after school, my bag snapped and it fell to the ground. Luckily, thanks to Jill and the amazing commenters - I had already purchased my very own 31 bag! I am soooo excited to get it - I took your advice and went with the utility organizing one (I know that's not the exact name). I got it in black with a lime green A on the side. I hope it will look ok!

On to the freebie! I found this cute Valentine's poem that is chalk-full of chunks we have learned in the phonics dance. So I cutsified it up a little, but then realized the cute clipart has nothing to do with the poem. So I don't know - I still like it and am going to use it. Here is a pic and the link to get it. Let me know if you download it - I love getting comments :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekends! Does anyone else have Monday off for Lincoln's birthday? Or is that just a CPS thing?! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Need A New Teacher Bag!

So, my current teacher bag's handle is presently about 3 threads from snapping. I think it's time for a new one! What do you all use? Does anyone have any suggestions? I've heard about the "31" bags - new concept to me - but they look really nice. I checked out their website, but couldn't figure out how to make a purchase. It said something about finding a consultant, but then wouldn't help me find one. Anyway - I love shopping - so keep the ideas and comments coming ;)

TGIF (tomorrow)!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One of Those Days, RAK, and Gummy Worms

Driving home today, I was just so overwhelmed with all of the things I have to do before 9:00 am tomorrow morning (entering grades, reorganizing guided reading groups, entering RTI data, getting organized for my newly started reading conferences, etc.)...not to mention I found out at 1:30 today that I have to go to a PD all day Thursday...and I was left thinking, "how can I fit in what I was planning to do in 5 days into 4 days?" Well, the answer probably is, it's impossible, but I'm going to try. I just couldn't help but think, "is anything I am doing working? Are my kids learning?" Gosh, I hope so!


When I got home, I got an email from Stephanie McCumbee, with her 100th Day packet attached. She gave it away to the first 2 comments on her post about it yesterday, and I was the third. How amazing of her to be so generous to email it to me too! I am made my day :)

On to gummy worms!

Last week we did this really fun experiment with physical change - I got the idea from Doris at Third Grade Thinkers (totally obsessed, if you can't tell). Basically, you leave a gummy worm (or bear) in water overnight and observe the changes. OMG, the changes are CRAZY! Even I was amazed! Here are some pics:

We are finally finished with matter, and on to African American history! Yay! Hopefully I'll be back this weeks with some pics to share :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Asking Questions and Van Allsburg

Who doesn't love Chris Van Allsburg?!?! I seriously love his books. He might be my favorite children's book author....although I have about 50 favorites! Anyway, last week we spent a lot of time studying and analyzing The Sweetest Fig. If you haven't read it, it's a MUST READ! Our purpose for reading this book was to learn about different types of questions, ask questions (thick and thin) before, during, and after reading, and answer questions (the ones that can be answered in the text and the ones that can't).

This is what our week looked like:

Day 1: Read aloud The Sweetest Fig while stopping to model how to ask questions. Stop about halfway through the book and ask students to turn and talk to ask a question they have for the rest of the book.

Day 2: Finish reading The Sweetest Fig, students write questions they have on post-its. Choose our burning question that we are still left with after reading.

this looks better in person, I promise!

Day 3: Students sat in groups to discuss the burning question. I gave each group a copy of the last three pages so students could use the pictures and the text to support their ideas. It went sooo well!! I wish I had pictures of this, but I was so engrossed in what they were saying, I forgot!

Day 4: We wrote our  answers to our burning question, using text support (and inferential skills - even though they don't know it...yet)

Sorry, these are a little hard to read! I got these great templates from the wonderful Doris at Third Grade Thinkers!

Day 5: On our final day, we sorted our questions into the QAR categories. This is our second go at this - and I was impressed at their ability to recognize what kind of questions they asked. get them to ask those kinds of questions! Of course, I forgot to take a picture of this too - I will add it tomorrow!

Hope you all had a great Monday!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What I love, New Units, and Go Giants!

I am so excited the Giants won! I'm really a huge Bears fan, but my least favorite team in the NFL is the Patriots (sorry NE fans)...and I'm an Eli fan! 

I am linking up with Funky First Grade Fun! Here's what I love :)

Also, I uploaded a few new products on my TPT store!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Giveaway and a freebie!!

Are you ready for the biggest giveaway ever!?!?!?!? Courtney at Swimming into Second (who is amazing for putting this giveaway together - and also just amazing in general) is hosting a giveaway where you will have the chance to win something from 23 teachers! All you have to do is follow all of the blogs and/or follow their TPT stores. You have to enter on Courtney's blog - so head on over now! You don't want to miss this one :)

Check out the amazing resources that you can win!

Also - if anyone does Daily 5 in their classrooms or has work on writing as a literacy station, here is what I am giving my students for their February work on writing choices (when we don't have pen pal letters or another writing project going). You can download it here :)