Sunday, March 20, 2016

Do you use Interactive Notebooks for Science?

More and more, I'm adding interactive notebooks pages to my science units.  These interactive notebooks are very popular among my students.  I believe it is the cut, paste, and color elements.  They get plum excited about them, whenever I tell them we will be working with them!

I just posted my Interactive Science Notebook: Light and
Interactive Science Notebook: Simple Machines to TPT.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What are you doing for St. Patrick's Day?

One of the most exciting things to do on St. Patrick's Day for third graders is to have a leprechaun visit  the classroom.  By this age several students realize this is fantasy, but many do not.  However, even for those that do, they still enjoy the thrill of pretending.

It seems that some leprechauns wreak havoc on the classroom, while others leave a few scattered gold-covered, chocolate coins.  I prefer the latter because I really don't want to clean up the room any more than I already do.

To add to our independent reading this month, I made QR Codes for March read alouds for several books about St. Patrick's Day.

At our school we have B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) day every Wednesday, and sometimes on Fridays as well.  We are fortunate to have a few iPads in our classroom as well.  I rotate the classroom iPads and students who don't have one, know they will get a turn next time.  All you need is a QR Code scanner which can be downloaded for free from the app store.

I like these QR codes because they do not show advertisements to my students at the beginning of the read alouds.  My students like them because they have the image of the book on them, and they can easily know which book they are choosing, not to mention the wonderful stories themselves.

These cards also provide AR levels, guided reading levels, and lexile levels when available.

Easter comes in March this year, so I added Easter books in this March set of QR Codes.  I've included several of my favorite books.  Here is a list of the books included.

  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day
  • The History of St. Patrick’s Day
  • That’s What Leprechauns Do
  • Jack and the Leprechaun
  • Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato
  • The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever
  • There Was and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover
  • The Leprechaun’s Gold
  • Fin M’Coul, The Giant of Knockmany Hill
  • The Easter Egg
  • Pete the Cat Big Easter Adventure
  • The Night Before Easter
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Marley and the Great Easter Egg Hunt
  • The Easter Bunny’s Assistant
  • Bunny Cakes
  • Happy Easter, Curious George
  • Happy Easter, Little Critter
  • Happy Easter, Mouse!
  • The Runaway Bunny

There are times I want my students to respond to a book they've read independently.  Here is a FREE copy of one of the response sheets I use in my classroom.  You can cut it in half and have students paste the sheet into their regular Reader's Notebook.  Another ides is to make a Response Journal and put in several blank copies of this page or others like it.  Then have your students fill out one response per day, or as you desire.

I hope you and your students enjoy St. Patty's Day this March 17th!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Are you ready for Dr. Seuss Week?

We are just a little more than half way through February, but its time to start planning for the events coming next month.  In less than two weeks, March 2nd, it will be time to celebrate NEA's Read Across America Day, in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Read Across America Day started as a way to motivate kids to read. We celebrate football with pep rallies.  We gather together to remember that Character Counts.  Why not do something to get kids excited about reading?  Those were the very thoughts that got this party started in 1997.

With the release of the new found Dr. Seuss book this year, there are lots of new resource ideas.  You can download this Read Across America activity guide from NEA's website.

Dr. Seuss books have been family favorites in our house for years.  Here are some of our favorites.  With the birth of our first child, my brother-in-law started us on a ever-growing collection of Dr. Seuss books.  For early readers, The Foot Book and One Fish, Two Fish... have repetitive and predictable texts.  However, before our children were ready to read, they loved being read to.  My oldest daughter and son loved for me to read Are You My Mother,  They loved their father to read Go, Dog. Go!  Their favorite part was the dog party at the top of the tree! My favorite has always been Green Eggs and Ham.  I just love the rhyme and the ending, when Sam realizes in fact, that he does like green eggs and ham.

Growing up, I'm sure you had your favorites.  I wonder if they were our favorites too...

I've listed our family's top 10 Dr. Seuss books here.  
#1 Go, Dogs. Go!

#2 Green Eggs and Ham

#3 Are You My Mother

#4 The Foot Book

#5 One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

#6 The Cat in the Hat

#7 There's a Wocket in My Pocket

#8 Ten Apples Up On Top

#9 The Sneetches

#10 How the Grinch Stole Christmas 

And now we have the newly found book titled What Pet Should I Get?  I was so excited when I realized this was a great book to launch our Opinion Writing Unit.  It spurred great conversations about which animals would make the best pets and why.  My students loved it!

Our library has a limited number of these classics, and I'm sure every teacher in our school will want them for their classroom.  So to make sure my students have access to them I created QR codes for 20 of these great books!  If you are not familiar with a QR code, it is a code that can be scanned by a QR code reader app, which is available as a FREE download here for an iPhone or here for an Android device.  Or you can visit your app store on your device.  You simply use an iPad, iPhone, or other tablet style device to scan the QR code.  For my QR Codes: 20 Dr. Seuss Stories for Read Across America,  a video will appear with someone reading the book.  These videos include the words to the books, so students can read along,  not just be read to.

Grab your copy of QR Codes: 20 Dr. Seuss for Read Across America from my TPT store now, so you'll have time print them and laminate to last for years.

So on March 2nd, during reading, and at a few other key times during the day, our focus will be on celebrating the wonderful stories brought to us by that wonderful American writer and illustrator Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Here is the official Dr. Seuss site, which features games, printable activities and information about Dr. Seuss himself.

If your school has a subscription to Brain Pop, Jr., click here for a great movie about Dr. Seuss.  If not, here is a more lengthy biography video from You Tube, without ads, but I suggest you view it first. Its about 10 minutes long.

In the comments section below, I would love to hear what Dr. Seuss stories were your favorites when you were growing up or even now.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Activities for Presidents' Day

I love teaching my students about these two great men in our history:  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Although they lived nearly a century apart, these two men contributed so much to our country.

George Washington:

Abraham Lincoln:

Say Yea for Presidents Day offers several fun ways to learn about these two great men, including bubble maps, word scrambles, board games and craft activities.  I hope your kiddos will enjoy these activities as much as mine do.

To get a FREE set of coin charts, go to an earlier post titled Say Yea for Presidents Day.

I would love to hear from you...  Just click on the "comment" button below.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Black History Month

There are so many teaching themes in the month of February:  The 100th Day of School (for some), Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day and of Course Black History Month.  I have a series of Reader's Theaters that I love to use, and I focus on two of them during this month to feature famous black Americans and also cover my history standards.  Many have heard of Frederick Douglas, but how about Mary McCloud Bethune?  Both were key figures in our history.  Mary McCloud Bethune established the first school for black girls, and eventually a college, which included both male and female African Americans, called Bethune-Cookman College.

My kiddos love to read these Readers Theaters over and over.  A readers' theater is different than a play in that the focus is on reading, just as the title suggests.  A play, has props, scenery, and the script is committed to memory.  However, in a readers' theater, students hold their scripts in front of them and focus their efforts on expressive reading.  My students always look forward to the introduction of a new historical figure in Social Studies, with the anticipation that we will have a readers' theater script for that person.  I have made several scripts to support the study of the historical figures featured in the 3rd grade curriculum, and many of these figures are also important to the curriculum of other grade levels as well.

During February, to support Black History Month, I pull out my readers' theaters on Frederick Douglas and Mary McCloud Bethune.  To take a closer look, click on the images below.
Here is what one of the pages looks like...

In these scripts, I've included groups, as you see Cheerleaders here, that will provide more support  for struggling readers.  It also helps to increase the number of participants for each reading.

Here is a picture of the readers theater I have written for Frederick Douglas.

My next blog post will be on Presidents'  Day and Valentine's Day activities and resources!  

I would love to hear from you...  Just click on the "comment" button below. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Planning for Next Year Already

As soon as May comes, while I am still in "teaching" mode, I start a bit of planning for next hear.  I make a list of "Tweeks", basically what I want to improve or do differently next year.  I go ahead and make folders with any copies that go inside.  During pre-planning, the copier is hard to get to, since so many people are using it then.  In May, very little is being copied, so I can use it at my leisure. 

I also add to my "August" box, putting in materials I will use at the beginning of next year.  In August, actually try to put those items back after I use them, but it helps to check it over and I often switch out things, such as new read-aloud books I have discovered that year, that I want to read that first week.  Here is a brief list of what's inside my "August" box. 
  • A master copy of all student folders and the copies that are inside them.
  • Back to School forms I use specific to my classroom (parent information packets, information sheet, class lists to be updated, etc.)
  • Open House signs
  • Back to School bookmarks
  • Copies for the first day of school and for the first couple of weeks
  • August envelope of word wall words
  • Read aloud books
  • Crafts we make those first days
  • First week's lesson plans
One of the copy sets I make is for morning work.  For my third graders, I go ahead and get copies made and store them in my "August" box.  These are great to serve as review of second grade skills at the beginning of the year.  They are engaged and allow me to get all those morning duties accomplished.  Since some students don't arrive until just as the bell is ringing for the start of school, I want to give them ample to time to get this work done as well.  Toward the end of we go over these morning work sheets together as student use a red pen to make corrections (no official grade).  I walk the room, making notes of skills that need more work, then I have students put them in their cubby, where papers that go home are put.  Parents appreciate frequent feedback, seeing what they can review with their children. Occasionally I collect them and give out rewards to perfect papers.  This is the incentive they need to always give it their best. They never know which one I will collect.  
Click on the picture below to get your copy of what I use for morning work for my third graders, Daily Math and Language:  August.  If you have your students visiting the library and taking AR tests as their morning activity, you may want to use this as homework.  Due to the nature of common core, and the frequent hands on work in the classroom, there are many times I don't have a skill sheet to send home specific to what we did in class that day.  If that happens to you as well, then that's a perfect time to use this resource.  There are at least 20 activities per monthly pack, so you will have  a new one each day.  These skills grow in scope and sequence through each monthly product, making great homework resources. 
Occasionally I collect them and give out rewards to perfect papers.  This is the incentive they need to always give it their best. They never know which one I will collect.
Occasionally I collect them and give out rewards to perfect papers.  This is the incentive they need to always give it their best. They never know which one I will collect.
Let me know what you think.  I love comments!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Back to Posting and more

I haven't had much time to post this year, due to changing grade levels.  Although I have taught third grade for over 15 years, I feel I need a variety of grade level experiences for possible future career options.  So, when a first grade position became open at my school, I took it.  For all of you that have ever changed grade levels, no matter how long you've been teaching, you know how much time it takes to learn the new curriculum and make other adjustments that are unique to that age group, not to mention the shear volume of teaching materials that need to be moved, or stored away.  Needless to say, I've been very busy!!!  

This summer I'm starting a additional blog called the 1st Grade Grapevine, but I will also continue to design products specifically for third grade and post here as well.  You may want to follow both as many things in education can be applied to many grade levels, such as decorating a classroom, implementing new technology, great book studies or classroom management posts.

My educational pinterest page will stay the same.  There are thousands of great ideas there by many talented educators!  Choose specific boards you are interested in, or just follow me, which will give you updates to all of the boards and notify you of any new boards I create. 

I've been working on many different products this year and here's the most recent. I designed it for my first-graders,  but it would be great for any ESOL students you may have, and possibly for struggling readers or SPED students who have gaps in their sight word knowledge.

The purpose of designing this product was to have something meaningful my first graders could do independently that would also keep them fully engaged.  Wow!  I had no idea how engaged they would be.  You can hear a pen drop in my classroom when they are working on these Color By Sight Words - First Grade, which is nearly never with first graders. LOL  They LOVE these!
Many of you are probably using your downtime this summer to leisurely look for ideas for next year.  Follow me and you'll be notified of my next post, which will feature back to school ideas.  Have a happy and relaxing summer! 

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