Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Where Does Writing Hide?

Today, I'm linking with Ideas by Jivey to discuss my Writing Workshop for her Workshop Wednesday linky party. Launching is in full swing this week for both Reading and Writing Workshops in my classroom. My charts are starting to go up around the room!  Here are a few that I hung up yesterday....

 Budget Saving Tip: I make my charts with each class on the SMARTboard and then laminate the chart after class to save paper. If it's a chart you're going to use year after year, you can save it! Chart paper gets expensive! 

Tomorrow, we're getting the students out of the classroom and starting one of my favorite writing lessons... we're going on a hunt for hidden writing! Yep, that's right, our students are getting to play detective tomorrow! Students are going to find writing hidden around our hallway, classroom, and inside their hearts. The lesson is adapted from Ralph Fletcher's A Writer's Notebook. It teaches students to be aware that the ideas for writing pieces can be all around them. It's great because it gets the hands on students out and about but no one is talking because everyone is doing observing work... we limit the observing to our hallway just because our school is SO huge. But students can listen outside classrooms, look at objects, peek out the windows, look within themselves, etc. 

Before our expedition, I always go over this handout of where writing can hide...
I can't take credit for the actual handout or the idea behind it. It was made by a colleague several years ago. I print it out on half sheets and have students glue into their Writer's Notebooks. We use this handout as our guide for getting our writing ideas. It helps students narrow their focuses as they become seekers of writing. If you want the handout you can snag if from my drop-box here.

My favorites are always the "snatches of talk." It's amazing what kids pick up on after only a few minutes of hanging out in the hallway... some of my more creative types also have some very interesting stories about lockers and the community drinking fountain! Hopefully, I'll remember take some snapshots of our detective work in action! This should help us start honing our observing skills before starting our first piece which is a personal essay.

What have you been up to in Workshop?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The dreaded, "We've already read that Miss Schreiber!"

Here's my Writing Workshop dilemma, by the time students get to fifth grade they're heart mapped out. They've read The Dot. If you name a popular inspirational launching writing workshop type book The Relatives Came, Saturdays and Teacakes, The Recess Queen, etc. - they've read it. I like to use a book to show how writers generate ideas for writing. It's a great way to get my students jazzed up and EXCITED for writer's workshop! Having them fall asleep to a book they've already heard, doesn't quite do the trick...

Enter, I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor. I found this book via another school's writing workshop unit plan's suggested title! SCORE! The book's central character is a Native American girl. Everyone thinks she's lonely living out in the desert. Who'd want to live there? Great connection the Southwest - right Social Studies teachers? But, it's just the opposite. She names off all the plants and animals that live there and states that she could never be lonely! She then goes on to talk about how she's in charge of celebrating special days in her life. Not her birthday or holidays like we'd think of... but days when special things out of the ordinary happen. She has a triple rainbow day. A green cloud day (for some reason this is ALWAYS my students favorite), a dust devil day, etc.

Here's an except for the Dust Devil Day.

After reading a few or all of her special celebrations... I have students think of special moments in their life - big or small that they would want to celebrate. We jot them down on a chart so that we can use them for writing inspiration later in the year. We have some prompts on the chart to help get some of our students thinking... The first time I.... My favorite... I got this scar when... etc.
*Wish I had thought to take some pictures of the students' journals... maybe tomorrow!

This book could also be used to make some social studies connections. It could easily be used to tie into Southwest Native Americans especially Southwest Native Americans today! Students can infer about daily life, customs, practices, and the environment. It's definitely worth checking out from the library! We're not quite at Native Americans yet this year so I didn't go too far in depth with the connections but many of my students used their previous knowledge to make the connections that Native Americans value and respect animals/nature which is why she celebrated a Coyote Day and left a special feast for him. Give the book a look and don't forget to check out Diane at Fifth in the Middle's Native American linky party going on right now! There are many more great ideas being shared!

Hope everyone's having a great week!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Peek at My Week...

There's a new linky party in town! Mrs. Laffin's Laughings is hosting a A Peek at my Week in which bloggers get a chance to link up and give everyone a peek at their week either inside or outside of school.

Today, we continue with the first twenty days of launching reading and writing workshops. We discussed ways to choose books and why writer's write. In social studies, we drew pictures of how we see the world without looking at any maps! In Social Studies the rest of the week we're going to be discussing geography all week - landforms, geographic features, physical features, part of a map, etc.

Tomorrow, we continue launching reading and writing workshops. We're discussing "Just Right Books" tomorrow and performing the Goldilocks test to see if a book is "Just Right." During reading time and intervention, I'm also pulling kids and working through The Reading and Writing's Project's Reading Assessment's to try and find my student's actual "Just Right" level. If you need any reading assessment tools from A - Z Columbia offers them for free on their website! You can find multiple passages, score guides, and directions here. It can be a little overwhelming but it's worth it!

In writing we're going to generate ideas for writing by reading the picture book, I'm in Charge of Celebrations. My students are "heart mapped out" by fifth grade and need a fresh approach to gather ideas. We read about how we can "celebrate" different events - event the simplest things in our lives can be celebrated and written about. The book also has connections to our Native American unit in Social Studies so it's a perfect cross curricular tie in - plus they've NEVER seen it before! YESSS!

Our first trip the library! I hope the librarian is ready for us! We're going as a team this year - so we're bringing two classes together. Bonding at it's finest :) We also get to pass out our new reading logs today and discuss our expectations that students should be reading at least 20 minutes a night for homework per a new district wide policy. If you would like your own infographic, you can snag the PDF by visiting the High-Tech Teacher's Blog.

Thursday begins our wrap up of our launching units. I'm reviewing our workshop procedures and having students get into reading and writing! I've downloaded and printed Jivey's Sticky Note Thinking bookmarks and we're going to practice this strategy together as we start our discussion on reading is thinking on Thursday! You can grab her amazing bookmarks and check out the post by visiting Ideas by Jivey: Sticky Note Training. I just love sticky notes!

The students are going to write an on demand personal essay as a benchmark piece before our unit. We're still working out the structure but we're going to make sure it's set up so that students are not "stressed" out by this "essay" format. We want them to be successful but still see that they have room for improvements. They wrote one essay in fourth grade at the very end of the year. In reading, we have some time scheduled for silent reading and the all important discussion on what "reading looks like" in our classroom. We're also taking our very first spelling test and passing out study guides for our first geography quiz next week! Whew! Can't wait to start digging into our personal essay unit in writing and character unit in reading next week!!!

What's your week look like?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Must Read Mentor Text: The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

I haven't been the most ideal blogger lately. Whew, the first week of school really wore me out! However, I couldn't miss an opportunity to link up with the girls from Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Social Studies Mentor Text Linky Party! In fifth grade, our curriculum has changed this year in the state of Ohio. We used to focus on American History from Native Americans through the Industrial Revolution. Now, our focus is on Western Hemisphere geography. Everything we teach from history to economics all must relate to geography. It makes sense but it's been hard grasping our new spin on things. Our fourth grade teachers inherited most of our previous history like Revolutionary War and Declaration of Independence. As the fifth grade Social Studies Department Chair for my grade level, I've been working really hard to try and find some geography related picture books to bring social studies to life for our students. It's been rough! But here's a book a colleague found a few years back...

The book Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison is literally about a man made from wood named Oliver. He's going to visit a little girl in California named Tameka. Tameka's uncle is unable to come visit for the summer so he sends Oliver on a cross country trip in his place. The story takes place in letters and post cards that people write to Uncle Ray as they pick up the wondering Oliver. Uncle Ray then writes to Tameka to tell her about Oliver's travels.

 This book does a great job reviewing the different landscapes (in pictures) of the United States as well as give the "Spark Note" version of a cross country tour. Many times as I read a new destination I have my students make a prediction of what Oliver might encounter in that region of our country and then we read the page and see if any our predictions are correct.  I like to use this book as a review of our regions unit since Oliver travels across the entire United States. The book is also full of tons of PUNS and dry humor! I love it! Many of the travelers comment on Oliver's great manners and sense of humor...

After reading,  I have my students map out Oliver's journey to practice scale and latitude/longitude as part of our geography skills review. The map of his entire journey can also be found in the back of the book. An amazing co-worker Jocelyn created this handout to review geography skills that goes along with the book. You can grab a copy from my Google Drive here.

There is also a companion book, Searching for Oliver K. Woodman if your looking for a follow-up lesson or activity. This is a newer book that's on my Amazon wishlist but hasn't made it into my classroom rotation quite yet.

Don't forget to link-up and share the Social Studies love,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My First Day of 5th Grade!...(Again)

 It's my first day of 5th grade... AGAIN!

 Thanks to my awesome partner Amie for organizing this photo shoot before school! She photographed the entire team next to our first day board.

After much anticipation, today was my first day with students! It was great to meet my new group of students! I get to meet my switch class tomorrow but it was fun getting to know my homeroom and trying to memorize and pronounce all their names. Tomorrow - I get to say them all without a name tag! It's always my goal every year. I feel like if I can know their names by day two, it's at least something in a HUGE school to make them feel more at home. Plus, it's nice when someone knows your name especially your teacher in a big school.

Today, we did some fun get to know you activities but I'm really excited to start talking about reading and writing tomorrow. I always start with the book, Miss Brooks Loves Books by Barbara Bottner.

Has anyone else read it? I love it! It's about girl who hates to read and a librarian that LOVES to read and dress up! It's a funny story and it's a quick read before my students take their reading and writing survey for me. It's great because shows them that they don't have to LOVE reading at the start of the year or that they don't have to love the same books as the teacher to be considered a great reader. Hopefully, my fifth graders this year will like the book as much as last year's group. Now, I just have to fight some rush hour traffic to pick up my hold from the library... Good thing they are open until 9pm.

Hope everyone else going back to school has a wonderful first day (or week!).

Are there any books you use to show a love for reading or writing in your classroom?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

American Indians & Social Studies Linky!

Today in honor of starting back to school this upcoming week, I'm linking up with Diane from Fifth in Middle to share some Social Studies ideas in her Social Studies Linky! Don't forget to check out all the amazing contributions! Our first unit in Social Studies is American Indian cultural regions so I'm going to be sharing a few of my favorite American Indian tidbits with you...

In fifth grade students come with lots of background knowledege on American Indians from previous years. They have a huge unit in second grade in which they look at different cultures and they also have a big unit in fourth grade that studies the native people of Ohio. So, we take this a step further in fifth grade and look at the cultural groups of the North America. The essential question is: How does geography influence American Indians' daily lives? 

Introduction Activity: The first thing I do (on the first day of the unit) is have students perform a simulation in which they have to "settle" around my room. They have to choose their own spot for learning and they can decide to learn and live anywhere in my room. Then I project these questions on the SMARTboard for the students to answer while in their "spot."

These questions start to target the concepts in our unit. Our focus is on the the regions that American Indians settled and how they impact each group's lives. Therefore, we start mapping out regions of my classroom in which students settle. There are areas that are more populated and areas less desirable... but each have their own advantages and disadvantages. This leads into our discussion that American Indian tribes were spread out the same way across North America. They all lived in many different places and have many different resources available and they used those resources to make their lives as comfortable as possible. I feel like this simple lesson hits home to big idea right away - where you live has an impact on your life. I bring this simulation back up as we study each region when I feel like the students need a concrete example... I might say something like: Those of you that chose to live by  my sink... remember, you had all the water you wanted just like the forest tribes. However, those of you living under my pencil sharpener, you were trying to figure out how to save up your resources just like the Hopi in the desert. The activity takes about 20 - 30 minutes depending on how long you want to stretch it out and it's a great introduction into cultural regions.

Review/Cross-Curricular Activity: I love trying to bring Language Arts into Social Studies as much as possible. I got this idea from a colleague who is now retired! Shout out to Patsy! I made it my own but essentially, kids get assigned or choose a group we studied and they write a short poem about what we've learned. I usually model it first with a group like the Arctic or Subarctic - I show how easy it is with the class version on the SMARTboard. Then I assign groups and turn the students loose.

Here's what the students glue in their notebooks:

This is a great review activity and it's a lot better than memorizing a study guide. Last year, I did a jigsaw so each table group had a cultural region and then one person had to share out so that all groups were represented. If you want a copy of the handout you can click here or on the graphic. There are three prompts to a sheet ready for copying and pasting into notebooks! I used this activity as a quick write for Social Studies and only gave the students about 15 minutes to complete their entry. My example took about 5 minutes on the SMARTboard... I move through it pretty quickly taking audience suggestions.

A sample poem may look like this...

Cold, Desolate
Fishing, Whaling, Making goggles
Using all resources to survive

Hope everyone has a great Sunday,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Snapshots & Back to School Sales!

School starts next Wednesday for me. I'm having my normal back to school anxiety right about now. Is everything done? Is it ready? So, what relieves stress better than shopping? The answer is nothing! In honor of back to school, TPT is hosting their back to school sales starting August 18th - 19th! In honor of their sale, I'm also hosting my own sale with everything in my store (sorry, there isn't much) 15% off! I need to go through my wish list and check out the sale... click the icon below to get started! Don't forget to use the promo code: BTS13 when checking out.

But now on to the main event. It's time to do a happy dance because 1) I've finally found some time to blog and 2) ....  

And since it's Saturday and I absolutely love taking photos, I'm linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for her weekly linky Saturday Snapshops! This week was filled with PD, getting things done in the classroom, and trying to just organize my own thoughts. Ever just sit at your desk and try and decide what to tackle first? I had many of those moments this week... But here are some productive things that came about...

My desk is organized and ready to go - although, I'm probably going to move those  paper clips, they are really bothering me in that spot... You'll also notice in the background student planners are out on the desks and everyone has an assigned seat! Whoo!

Star Wars markers were only $1 for a pack of eight at Target this week! So naturally I bought ten packs! Just a little surprise on each kiddos desk the first day. Last year, I did a mini-mechanical pencil and the "You're Just Write for this Class" tag. This year, I found these and they go with my library theme so well... so I made my own tags!

 New "I Cans" typed up and printed... now I just need to laminate next Monday or Tuesday! Loving the bright colors and half sheets!

Grammar Rocks wall is complete with some Yoda thrown in there. I'm going to use this well to post my mentor sentences that I received from my awesome colleague Amy from the Art of Teaching. She's my grammar guru and huge Jeff Anderson fan - so I'm giving her grammar system a try this year!

Which leads me to this morning, Iggy and I enjoyed some time relaxing in PJ's on the couch... it was nice to have my coffee and watch the DVR without  fretting over getting to school. Plus, who wouldn't want to snuggle with that face?

Hope everyone else has a restful and wonderful weekend,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Building a class library? Refreshing your choices?

As I was decompressing from the amount of things I keep adding to my to do list, I decided to surf Pinterest for a few minutes. If I can't cross things off my list - why not look at more things I don't have time for, right? Then I saw this pin.... Oooo, books!

The pin features essential books for grades 3-5 to have in your library. If you go to the the We are Teachers website it has detailed descriptions of several books that would fit each genre. If you're a new teacher or trying to refresh your library - this is a great resource to use! I know after spending several days reorganizing and leveling my library, I felt like I'm on the right track as I saw several titles in my library on this list! You can click on the graphic or click here to learn more.

Good luck as everyone continues back to school,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Week: Classroom Digs!

I'm a little late to the link up because we had Open House today! However, to continue on with Teacher Week 2013 it's time for some classroom digs! Don't forget to link up with the ladies over at Blog Hoppin' for the rest of the week! I had a red, blue, and blue theme for a while when I taught American History. Most of the fabric still covers my boards (that's expensive to replace!) but my room is no longer themed... it's just all things that I love. Some Peanuts. Some Star Wars. Lots of bright colors. And a laughing zebra. Enough said.

 Without further's the highlights....

I must say, I love the blogging community.  I've had a lot of support and praise on Instagram last week as I set up my room! A HUGE special thanks goes out to Jameson from Lessons with Coffee for helping me out with my Stars Wars theme. The awesome recycling poster came from her! She's a rock star and helped me beyond belief. I still have to print some goodies she sent my way! She's one amazing lady and I wished we lived closer so we could actually have coffee, go to the dog park and go school supply shopping... but you should check out her blog!

Also, check out Ashley Hughes' TPT store for the super cute free borders I used! You can grab them here.  Don't forget to link up tomorrow for Organizing for Instruction!


I'm exhausted,

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the Teacher!

It's Teacher Week '13 and I love a good linky party so I'm linking up with the gals at Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week 2013. Today's theme is Let's Talk about Me Monday! I love it! 

So let's talk about me... 

 1. I've been teaching seven years! Time has flown by! I've been lucky enough to be on the same team and teaching fifth grade the entire time. I'm truly blessed to be working with such amazing co-workers! Team Infinity Rocks!

2. My favorite holiday is Halloween. Every year, I beg my boyfriend Nathan to go pick pumpkins with me. It makes me giddy. I absolutely LOVE it. Here's a photo-op of some pure pumpkin joy.

3. I could easily watch hours upon hours of the show Supernatural. I love it. I think Jensen Ackels is dreamy. I love the cheesy acting and pop culture references. It's perfect for all day marathons. If that's not on, Arrested Development or Big Bang Theory is a great replacement marathon show.

4. I'm a crazy dog lady. My dogs get a cake for their birthdays. They get each have  jerseys for football, hockey, and baseball season. They ride in the front seat and have a million plus toys scattered around my house. I love them. Mikka is an 8 year old Jack Russell mix we rescued from the pound 7 years ago! Iggy we've had for 10 months and he's a 3 year old Italian Greyhound. Mikka is always the boss.

5. Cheeseburgers and ice cream are my favorite foods. I'm from Cincinnati and we LOVE ice cream here! We have some of the best ice cream around in my opinion. Graeter's is a must if you're ever in town. However, there is a local soft-serve place called Walker Brothers that was my favorite place to visit this summer. They even have frozen treats for dogs. It was Iggy gives it two paws of approval!

6. I still love to color. I have a pack of twist up crayons in my desk and when I go on plane rides I still buy myself some coloring books. You're never too old to color. It's such a great stress reliever.

7. One of my favorite hobbies is gardening. Every year, I plant a small potted garden on my back deck. I love eating tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and strawberries that I've grown. Nothing beats it. There is something about the smell of tomatoes that makes me happy. Here's my car loaded down from a trip to Home Depot, I couldn't resist the colored tomato cages this year... 

8. I love iced coffee better than hot coffee. I try to make my own by McCafe is on my way to work and they have a drive-thru!

9. I've always loved animals. I love elephants, owls, lemurs, and moose. I have a small moose collection that includes a moose rug that is in my library at school. The rug was once in my dorm room at college. It's held up surprisingly well...

10. I love hockey. I've touched the Stanley Cup. I met the keeper of the cup. It was amazing.

Don't forget, it's Teacher Week all week at the Blog Hop! So get your posts ready to link up and check out what everyone's blog this week! I can't wait to share my classroom tomorrow... Here's a schedule of events in case you missed it!

Until next time,
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