Monday, December 30, 2013

Farewell 2013!
I can't believe 2013 is almost over... This year has brought lots of great things my way and I can't wait to see what happens in 2014. In honor of the new year and the farewell of 2013, I thought I'd like up with some blogging buddies for the 13 in '13 linky party! Here's a look back at 2013...

I'm definitely a child of the 1990's. My favorite "new" article of clothing is a plaid flannel shirt I bought from Old Navy. It brings back memories of junior high school. Only now I'm wearing the shirt instead of tying it around my waist. I love the colors and the fact that you can wear it with leggings or jeans! Win, win, win!

I've seen lots of great movies this year from Catching Fire to The Great Gatsby. I love watching movies based on novels. My favorite movie of this year would have to go to Catching Fire! Loved the movie adaptation and portrayal of my favorite character Finnick Odair!

I love TV. Picking a favorite series is very hard because my DVR is always full. But I'd have to give it to the Big Bang for being my favorite TV show of this year. The show is truly an escape that always brings about several laughs!

My favorite restaurant has to be a family owned Italian restaurant called, Betta's Italian Oven. They are known for their wood fired pizzas and I can never get anything else when I go... It's impossible not to get pizza. It's by far the best pizza in the city!

My Erin Codren Teacher Planner! It's the best thing for keeping me organized this year. It's really not a revolutionary concept but having a planner that can keep me organized and makes me feel happy every time I look it, I think that's a sell for a new planner next year. I love it and feel like I won the lottery by finding the video online.

My favorite gift of 2013 would have to be my new iPhone. My boyfriend was tried of hearing me complain about about my very, very old slow iPhone. So, he bought me a new glorious iPhone 5s. I'm in love. I'd be lost without  my phone for sure! My favorite gift from a student in 2013 was my Duck Dynasty band-aids. They know me so well!
My favorite pin of the year.... 3 Key Ideas for Parents about the Common Core. It's perfect for explaining the Common Core to parents & giving them some helpful tips. This was a perfect handout for our Meet the Teacher night! Thanks Jen at Hello Literacy for creating this great resource!

One of my favorite posts was about our Native American Mosaics. I love this post best because I remembered to take pictures of student work! This was a fun activity for my students and I loved displaying their mosaics around the classroom afterward!

Creating my own blog layout! I learned GIMP and did lots of "research" online to try and make my own buttons and cute images for my blog. I didn't have the money to pay for a custom layout so I tried my best to customize my layout just for my little ol' blog.

Celebrating the big 30 with the boyfriend at The Melting Pot! I've never been and it was an amazing night out for sure! The food, company, and conversation was wonderful!

Save money for a real vacation! I want a plane to take me away.... not sure where. But a week long adventure to another part of the country would be great!

I'd like to thank my friend and coworker Holly for the wonderful encouragement to find my everyday happy! Her blog Finding My Everyday Happy is amazing!

May the new year bring you happiness!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Must Read Mentor Text: Snow

I must say I'm enjoying winter break to it's fullest! I had a great lounging day yesterday and I spent the few days after Christmas cleaning up my house! I it feels great to have some time to get things done around the house. However, I have been ignoring my teacher bag by the door overflowing with feature articles. But, they can wait...
Today, I want to link up with Amanda and Stacia from Collaboration Cuties for a Winter Must Read Mentor Text! I have several favorite winter Mentor Texts. I love Snow Day by Lester Laminack to teach point of view. Plus, the book makes for a great read before an elusive first snow day. I also the classic book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This book is great for teaching onomatopoeia and powerful verbs.

But my favorite is...
Snow by Cynthia Rylant is quite possibly my favorite winter mentor text. This book does not disappoint and is loaded with author's craft examples. My favorite way to use Snow by Cynthia Rylant is for teaching figurative language.

The book is loaded down with similes and personification. My students are simile and metaphor experts but always need help with some of the harder types of figurative language like personification.

Here's a few personification examples:

"Snow that comes softly in the night...afraid to knock"
Snow "Wait(s) in the yard"

"Snow tells you..."
"Snow will take you there.."

For this book, I like to have a copy of the text typed up for my students. Before we read we the book we'd review the definition and some basic examples of personification. Then during reading, we highlight all the examples of personification found in the novel. You can get resources for teaching figurative language including personification from Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit's Interactive Reading Literature Notebook handouts. I've used her interactive notebook templates several times this year! I love them! You should check out Lovin' Lit on TPT! She has amazing resources! She also has a Figurative Language Unit available on her store.

Handout we glue into our notebooks inspired by Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks:  
(Click the image for my handout)
After using Snow for more examples.... we'd use examples from Snow as our example for personification to include in our figurative language flipbook notes. The idea for the flipbooks once again is from Erin's interactive notebook handouts. She also has a  free bonus simile lesson available in here TPT store if you need to teach or review similes.  

Here's my handout & an example template from Erin's free simile unit:

If you're moving into poetry during the winter months, Snow by Cynthia Rylant is the book for you! This book is great for reviewing similes as well as providing numerous examples of personification. Rylant definitely makes the "snow" come alive within her book!

Hope everyone is enjoying break!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spark Student Movitation: Gifts of Writing!

I'm finally on winter break! My body clock didn't quite realize that this morning but I'm finally done with all my x-mas shopping and it felt great just to relax! Whew, this break was much needed! So, in the spirit of relaxing and getting caught up, I'm going to try and get back into blogging by linking up Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays!
This week we were finishing up our "gifts" of writing. This idea was created by a coworker of mine several years ago. The week or weeks (if you have the time) before break students begin working on a gift of writing for someone they care about. Students can choose a family member, friend, teacher, etc. Instead of going out and buying another gift, students are encouraged to give them the gift of writing.

Students have created scrapbooks, poetry collections, framed letters, calendars, etc. We always have some very creative students that do such a great job with their special "gifts." This project is very motivating because it offers students lots of choice.  They can choose the style, medium (paper, coffee mug, photo collage), and person to write about. It also allows students who normally loathe writing a chance to write about anyone, anything, for any length. They especially enjoy "wrapping" their gifts or getting the covers laminated. My only requirement is that the gift be thoughtful since it is a gift they are giving to someone else.

To get started students use this graphic organizer to generate ideas:
You can get a copy for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store - just click the image above. Unfortunately, I was so busy hole punching calendars and helping to "edit" the work of my students that I forgot to take photos of the final products! I'll have to add a memo in my planner to remind myself to take photos next year! If only Santa could loan me some elves to help out around the classroom! 

From me and my fur babies.... 
We hope everyone has a great break and gets some special goodies from Santa!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Holiday Close Reading

I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above the snow recently! We've had two snow days and a 2-hour delay this month... now, this is wonderful don't get me wrong, but I also need to wrap up some units before break! I feel like I've been MIA from my blog and the real world! So, today, I decided to let my teacher bag sit by the door so I can write a quick post. I'm excited to link up with Holly at The Fourth Grade Flipper with some holiday cheer (and close reading)!
 So, today in 5th grade we got into the holiday spirit by using Ashleigh's from Ashleigh's Education Journey Holidays Around the World Close Reading Activity. Since, we've been studying regions of the United States we used her freebie about the United States to keep up with our close reading practice. The Christmas in the United States article was wonderful for our morning work time! Her directions were very clear and precise and teach great note taking skills! If you want a sample, check out the free version and then go add her entire Holiday collection to your cart or wait for another TPT sale! I wish I had more time this year to cover more of the holidays. We may have to pick up a few after our break.
The directions are very clear and focused. The first read students go through and jot down notes in the margin of interesting facts. On the second read they look for key and unfamiliar words. And on the third read they add their own information to the passage! Plus, she has three different levels! Love, love, love! Since our students know their DRA reading levels it made it super easy to pass out each "Just Right Text" and since they look practically the same - the students didn't do the "What's that one?" face.

Check out the "higher" level passage.
My students seemed to really enjoy the short passage plus the clear directions. I loved it as a teacher because it also taught them some great note taking and text coding strategies. If you need something to do before or after break and you want to ease your students into close reading - check out the Holidays Around the World Close Reading pack!

Hope everyone else is enjoying their last few days. Hang in there... only 3 more to go!
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