Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Thankful

Natalie and Rachelle over at What the Teacher Wants are hosting a linky party all about what we're thankful for! What a great (and appropriate) idea! I've been posting each day on my Facebook page about the things I'm thankful for, and it has made me realize how INSANELY blessed I am to have all that I have. Since this is a school-related blog, I'm making all of my answers school related, too. Feel free to head on over and link up the things you're thankful for :)

1. What are you thankful for in your classroom?
My iPad, SMARTBoard (sometimes), and Leveled Literacy Intervention system! The iPad has totally changed my teaching; there are so many awesome things on it that can enhance what I'm doing with my kids in small groups. My SMARTBoard is VERY finicky, so sometimes I'm cursing it more than being thankful for it, but in the end I can't imagine my classroom without it. LLI is the program I use for all of my reading groups, and man-oh-man am I thankful for Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell! It is truly an invaluable resource at my school.
2. What person are you most thankful for?
AHHH, what an insanely hard question!!! How can I choose?? Even though I've narrowed it down to school related people, it is still so difficult. There are so many people here who are my mentors and friends, and I can't imagine surviving (especially last year) without them. However, if you put a gun to my head and FORCED me to choose I'd have to say my amazingly fantastic instructional assistant, Ms. Terri Bell. I can't say enough good things about her. She restores my sanity, gives me great ideas for lessons and modifications, is a great listening ear, and is above all else one of my dearest friends. She has saved me more times than I can count and I am reminded daily of how much she means to me and does for me. What a blessing :)
3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
Geeze, that's another hard one. Well, besides TBA (obviously) I'd have to say my 3 favorites are the following:

What the Teacher Wants (and I'm not just saying that because this is their linky party!). I love the freebies, the ideas, and all the inspiration they provide. Thanks, Rachelle and Natalie for all your fantastic ideas.

Queen of the First Grade Jungle, Mrs. Katie King! She teaches at the same school I do and is always filling me in on her awesome blog finds. She is a great teacher, coworker, and blogger :)

Last but CERTAINLY not least, the first blogger I ever stalked. I was literally blown away by the amount of fantastic information she provided. Please, please check out Mrs. Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade for some serious inspiration.
4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
I am super thankful for my candy jar! Some days I just really need a burst of sugar to keep me going. The candy jar is perfect, especially when it is just a little sweet that I'm in need of. It can get a little costly, but I sure do love it ;)
5. What are you most thankful for?
When it comes to school, I am definitely most thankful for my kids. They keep me motivated even on the days where I feel myself start to get jaded by all the negatives and craziness that can float around in education. They remind me every day why I absolutely love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else and I am so very thankful for the kids that make my work all worth it.

What are you thankful for? Head over to What the Teacher Wants and share :)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkeys for my Turkeys :)

TWO MORE DAYS! YAY! :) The kids are *almost* as excited as I am about Thanksgiving break. Growing up, I always thought the kids were the ones who really appreciated days off of school, but man was I wrong...teachers love them so much more!
This week in writing, we'll be making these turkeys to show what we're thankful for. We will be writing different things we are thankful for on the feathers and then gluing them to the circular body that says "This year, I'm thankful for...". Finally, we're going to glue them onto construction paper and have them laminated to make place mats. I've never made these before, so unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the final product to show as an example. We are doing these on Monday, so I'll post pictures as soon as we're done. I think they'll be really cute!
The templates for the turkey bodies and feathers can be found HERE. Unfortunately, I don't have a template for the heads or feet, so feel free to create those yourself. They are really easy to cut out, but IMPOSSIBLE to create in a Power Point presentation. Have any ideas to modify this or make it better? Please feel free to share :) I always love suggestions!
Happy Short-Week-of-Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 18, 2011

The End of Predictions

Well, all our work on predictions is coming to a close and I'm pleased to say I think they've got it! I only had one little one who didn't seem to understand what it meant to predict, so I felt like that was pretty good :) We've read books and predicted, done Babbling Abby's Mystery Box activity (I made my own, but used her example as an awesome starting place), and did Babbling Abby's Candy Corn Bandit activity (can you tell I like her a little bit?!) which was SO much fun...I mean, they were totally obsessed. We've also used Brain Pop, Jr. A LOT during this reading unit. They have some really good printable activities, too. Here are some pictures of us hard at work :)

We love Annie and Moby around here! We are moving on to learning about the main idea and supporting details of a text. I'll probably wait until after Thanksgiving break to start, so we'll be doing some serious reviewing Monday and Tuesday of next week. Enjoy your weekend...Thanksgiving is just around the corner!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hi, I'm Claire and I have a problem...

I have a confession to make: I'm a blog idea thief! It is the main thing I use for teaching strategies these days. I just can't help it; if I see a fantastic idea on someone's blog, I just have to go and recreate it to make it my own. That being said, I always give credit and link back (usually multiple times) to the blogger who first used and posted the idea. In that spirit, I'd like to share 2 of my most recent stolen successes! Hope they are ideas that are useful to you :)
First of all, I was wandering around on Pinterest looking for a new way to teach spelling words. The strategies I was using were still working, but they were getting a little old. I came upon this Read, Write, Create sheet that was pinned from a seller at TpT, and I knew I had to make my own! Her's looks like this:
So cute, and the pack comes with tons more activities! I didn't use this one, but instead made my own with the kids' spelling words. Because I teach so many different grade levels, I have 3 different spelling lists to keep up with each week (crazy!) so having an activity that they all can do really helps to lighten my load. I make one template, then just change up the words...easy! Hop on over to TpT to check out the original post and pack, Popcorn Word Literacy Activities by Melissa Freshwater. Thanks for the idea, Melissa :)
Next, I was working on multiplying activities (again) the other day and about flipped when I saw an AMAZING activity over on Second Grade Shenanigans. Multiplying using repeated addition with marshmallows and Fruit Loops...what a great idea! If the kids were right, they got to eat their answer :) So fun! I forgot to take pictures, so here is the picture from Hope's blog:

Is she just too creative or what?! You can click HERE to go straight to her blog and read the original post about multiplication. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't know where I'd be without you awesome teacher bloggers :) Thanks for all your help as I continue to gather ideas for teaching the new alternate assessment standards.


Saturday, November 5, 2011


For our alternate assessments, my fourth graders have to learn to multiply...yikes! That was a little overwhelming, considering adding and even counting are serious challenges. But I don't have a choice, so I had to embrace the new standards. After a suggestion from my fabulous (unofficial) teaching mentor, I've taken a great multiplication strategy and run with it. The kids are actually catching on to it! I must admit, I was shocked by this. Just goes to show that they WILL rise to meet my expectations, and that I can never stop challenging them regardless of what I think they can't do! :) Basically, this was a good lesson for the teacher and the students.

I started out by introducing them to multiplication with drawings. I told them that the first number in a problem was the number of circles you draw. The second number was the number of Xs you put in each circle. Once you're done, you count the Xs and that is your answer. Here's my example (taken with an iPhone camera, so please excuse the quality) on the SMARTBoard.

5 circles times 2 stars in each circle equals 10 stars all together!

They seemed to catch on to this to a degree, so I decided to get them actively engaged in the activity. I brought hula hoops to school and had the kids all take off their shoes. I had them use the hula hoops in place of the circles and their shoes in place of the Xs. They usually LOVE weird stuff like this, and this game was no exception! So fun! One of my little darlings had it down to an art by the end of the lesson!

Here's the hula hoop match to the problem on the SMARTBoard.

I created a little exit slip to go along with this activity. If you are having trouble teaching multiplication, this is really fun! I am going to try to find bean bags to use, too. Since several of my babies wear Dafos, taking shoes off and putting them on is a challenge for my IAs and me! Bean bags might be faster and easier than shoes. Plus, I had one little guy who was totally grossed out by the was too funny :) If you want the exit slip, you can grab it right HERE. Hope this will be useful to you! Please, please share other fun multiplication activities if you have them.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Idiom Foldable! LOVE!

I was wandering around, pinning away on Pinterest the other day (don't you just LOVE that site?!) when I wandered across this little beauty  by Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade. It was a fabulous activity about idioms. The kids really had fun with this, although they did need some extra prompting and guidance. Check out our photos, then PLEASE hop on over to Denise's blog and check it out. I recently discovered it and I just love it! :)

Here's one of my darling first graders working away on his idioms! We drew and wrote the idiom on the outside flap, and drew a picture of what it really meant on the inside flap. Really fun!

I say that the kids are "on the ball" all of the time, so that was a great starting point. They helped me make a list and then copied from the board to help with spelling.

I know this is upside down, but I can't get it to rotate...grrrr! The right side of this picture is what "It's raining cats and dogs" really means, and the left side is what "You are on the ball" really means. This little quiet darling is one of my best artists :)

Have a good week!

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