Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday: Spring Break edition!
It's Friday! Which is typically a good thing but this week it means that Spring Break is coming to a close... Keeping up with my new found blogging stamina, I thought I'd link up and share some of my weekly adventures with Doodle Bugs Teaching in her Five for Friday!

I started off break with a new haircut and a really, really, really long wait for Chickfila. I took some car selfies to pass the time....

My goal over break was to do some shopping and couponing! Kroger was having a great buy 5 Save $5 sale and I was testing out some new couponing apps. I'd say my shopping trips were a success! I even organized all my nonperishables in my teeny-tiny bathroom closet with $1 Target magazine holders that I had a Cartwheel for 10% off!

I also bought myself a few things. That's what a staycation is all about right?... My Treat Yo Self purchases included a new water bottle (Target) and some new clothes (Old Navy).

I plan on ending my break with a trip to Divergent! Over break I found some gift cards from students for Regal and a coupon on Ibotta! If you haven't tried out the free Ibotta app - it's totally worth it! Extra coupons equal more money in your pocket! 

I did do a little planning and prep work over break as well. I made sure all our word wall words for Canada were ready to go! I also put all the students images into a SMART notebook file for easy copying and studying!

Here are few of my favorites:
Don't forget to check out Five for Friday and follow me on instagram! I've been way better about keeping up with instagram than the blog as of late!

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Poetry Invitation!

Can I just say that I love being on break?! The time I have to catch up on blogs and my DVR has been amazing! Today, I thought I'd try keep the blogging streak alive with a post about poetry! Thanks as always to the wonderful Jivey for hosting her weekly Workshop Wednesday!

For a poetry mentor text, I read Love that Dog by Sharon Creech. I adore this "novel" as many of you do as well. Since so many people use Love that Dog in their own classrooms, I thought I'd write about how I invite my students into my poetry unit.

I usually start my unit with the poem, "A Valentine for Ernest Mann" by Naomi Shihab Nye. I read this poem before we do any reading of Love that Dog. I tell my students that this poem is my invitation for them to become poets as we go through the unit.

Here's the invitation I give my students: (Click to grab it)

You can also watch Naomi Shihab Nye perform her poem via YouTube:

My students LOVE this poem! After reading it and listening to the commentary, we talk about how they need to find the poems that hide in their lives and write about! 

And our first poem in Love that Dog that we write is a tribute to William Carlos Williams' poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow." We read the poem together and watch this pretty neat animated version on YouTube.

Here's Mr. Williams himself reading his poem:

After discussing the poem and watching the video, I task my students like Jack, to be inspired by William Carlos Williams. They brainstorm things that are important to their 5th grade lives & what they depend upon.  I love how these poems turn out every year! After the first few days many of "haters" start to turn into poetry "lovers." I make a big deal (like Price is Right just called my name, type of deal) about students "converting" from haters to lovers and that helps add to the fun climate during our poetry unit!

Here's my brainstorming sheets: (Click to grab it)

What tricks do you use to encourage creative writing / poetry in your classroom?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Must Read Monday: Spring Break Edition {Matched series}

Welcome to my spring break addition of Must Read Monday hosted by the fabulous Amanda at Teaching Maddness! Since, it's spring break, I put down some of my students' book club novels and picked up something I've been wanting to read. What is my genre of choice? Seventh grade girl science fiction of course!  This past weekend I read, Matched by Ally Condie. Many of my students have read The Hunger Games and Divergent but I don't put those out in my library since they are more mature novels that I feel parents should be giving the "okay" on. However, Matched is the least "teen" of them all so far...

Matched is about a futuristic society in which girls and boys are "matched" at seventeen. When you become matched this is the person you will marry and spend the rest of your life with. You also are put into a career path and start toward down the road to adulthood. All is well for Cassia, the main character, until there is a glitch in the matching system and she gets two matches! Oh no!

The first book was a fast read. Plus, it was very PG. Nothing "young adult" really takes place in the novel besides a few dates. I would definitely consider letting a few of my higher readers choose this book to read for pleasure with a parent approval. According to Scholastic Book Wizard the Guided Reading Level is a Z and the lexile is 680.

I've started on the second book, Crossed today. So far, I'm not a big fan. The book is no longer told solely by the main character but alternates between characters. It doesn't flow quite as quickly or as smoothly has the first book Matched. If you're into this genre or teach older students, I highly recommend Scott Westerfield's Uglies series! So far, it has this series topped in writing, plot, and style.

My goal is to read the trilogy over break and then decide they can go in the classroom library. Many of my students grabbed copies at our recent Scholastic Book Fair because they were near Hunger Games and Divergent. I can already tell I'm not going to enjoy them quite as much as Hunger Games or Divergent but they may be the most appropriate for my fifth graders who love that genre. We shall have to wait and see!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Must Read Mentor Texts: A Walk In Text set...
Happy Sunday! This week starts our Spring Break and I can think of nothing better than starting off my weekend with some book recommendations! To share my Social Studies mentor texts, I'm linking up with Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Mentor Text Linky.

We're getting ready to start Canada in Social Studies. Before break, students worked on their Canada Word Walls and started getting glimpses of Canada. When we return from Spring Break, students will be studying three different regions of Canada and creating a Canada "passport" lapbook.

Of course, I went looking for Canadian picture books on the web to help out with our unit! There are few ABC books and a colleague of mine found Goodnight, Canada that we're going to turn into a class book. But there weren't many others... Since our main focus is geography in fifth grade, I found these gems on Amazon while doing some searching!

Each of the A Walk In books covers a different biome or landscape of North America. There are great maps and descriptions of each place! I wish I had these earlier in the year... My students have a hard time understanding places like "tundra" because many of them have never seen it. As a bonus, the books are very description and beautifully written.On Amazon, I found these used for $4 dollars each with free shipping! Yay!

Excerpt from A Walk in the Tundra...
I plan on using these books for supplemental research as we discuss each region and as students begin their research for their portion of the ABC books. I'm hoping these books really bring the geography aspect of our curriculum alive to students! I created a few cinquain geography poetry half sheets since it is National Poetry month! I figured these would be a good way to get students thinking about the information in a creative and fun way...

Do you use any geography mentor texts in your classroom?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Nonfiction Note Taking!

Happy Hump Day! I'm finally getting back into my blogging routine. Since it's Wednesday, I'm linking up with the wonderful Jivey for Workshop Wednesday!

According to Common Core Writing Standard 5.2 & 5.7, fifth graders need to research a topic using various sources and then write about. To meet his standard, we spent some time researching environmental issues for a feature article writing assignment.

My biggest struggle was teaching my fifth graders some effective note taking strategies. Some had a difficult time organizing all their thoughts and putting information into their own words. Although, quite a few students were natural note-takers, I had a few organizationally challenged students this year. So, I thought I'd share a few resources that helped me and my fifth graders get through our 2 months-ish of nonfiction reading and research!

To gather research for our feature articles, I shared Jessica Heeren's Nonfiction Notes Graphic Organizer. This laid out a great way to take notes for my students unsure of how or what to take notes on... it always allowed them to easy go back and find important information by source. We color coded our packets so that each source was a different color so we could cite our sources correctly! Best of all, Jessica's graphic organizer is completely FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers! So grab it up and give her some great feedback! 
Jessica's Note-worthy graphic organizer!  

During the researching process, I also used Lightbulb Minds' Nonfiction Writing Unit to help guide some of my mini-lessons and discussions. I used the handouts on plagiarism, choosing a topic, citing sources, writing an "outstanding opening" and creating a glossary. Each of these handouts were well thought out and communicated a clear objective to my students. I loved this pack! Worth every penny! I was easily able to check topics, sources, and glossaries as students conducted their research and carried the piece throughout the writing process!

The finished pieces were amazing! However, students had to publish the "old fashion" way by hand due to snow days so I don't have any digital copies to share. My teaching partner created a feature reflection sheet (grab a copy from dropbox) that allowed students to think and reflect on their own writing!

Check out Ideas by Jivey for more Workshop gems! Why reinvent the worksheet when so many talented teachers are sharing their resources!

Happy Workshop Wednesday!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Must Read Monday: Dog Lovers Edition!
I'm so excited that I can finally link up with Amanda from Teaching Maddness for her Must-Read Monday linky! This week her focus is on books for dog lovers, so I decided to link up another "doggone" good read!

We all know that I have a soft spot for my two rescued fur babies... even when they fight over the same Yoda toy! So, I was thrilled to join up with a new favorite book for dog lovers!

My new favorite dog lover book is actually historical fiction! The book is called Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jerri Watts. This is my second year for using the book as a read aloud during my integrated Civil Rights unit. The book is about a young African American girl growing up in rural Virgina during the school year of 1963. The girl realizes that racial tensions are high and she doesn't quite fit in at her new "white school." However, her dog, Shag seems to be the perfect buffer between Kizzy Ann and her new classmates! Written in journal style, this book is super easy to read and is a great introduction to historical fiction. My students are loving this novel (both boys and girls)! If you love Because of Winn Dixie, this book has many similar themes.

You can listen to the first chapter of Kizzy Ann Stamps via Amazon. You can also check out a summary and short video of the novel by downloading the Scholastic Book Fair app. I also plan on showing my student this short video from Animal Planet's Dogs 101 about Border Collies.

In the book, Shag makes a great herding dog and is learning how to herd for an important training competition that not only tests Kizzy's skills but breaks down the color barrier as well! 

I highly recommend this book for 4th - 5th graders who love dogs! According to Scholastic, the book's DRA level is a "T" and lexile level is 920. This book is also great because you don't have to read "every" entry if you want to use it for a read aloud or short genre study on historical fiction. It's definitely worth checking out at your Scholastic Book Fair or library! Go check out Amanda's blog for some other great dog picks... she has a few of my favorites posted!

What novel are you reading in you classroom?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Peek at my Week: Historical Fiction Reading & Canada!

Only one more week until Spring Break! 

Since break is rapidly approaching, we're going to be doing some wrapping up this week! We're ending our integrated (reading and social studies) Civil Rights unit this week. Our students having been reading historical fiction novels as well as studying the history of the Civil Rights movement. This week, we're moving on to historical fiction writing now that they're a wealth of knowledge on the time period.

Here's a few books that I'm going to use as mentor texts for our writing unit:

Titles include:
Freedom on the Menu, White Water, A Sweet Smell of Roses. 
A Taste of Colored Water and Freedom Summe.r

For social studies, we're moving into Canada! This is a new unit for our fifth teachers, so we've planned some fun activities and lessons that will helpfully teach our students some new information about our northern neighbors. As with all my units this year, I'm starting out with a word wall. I've added a copy to my drop box so feel free to grab a copy if you want some Canadian vocabulary! After the word wall we're going to be working on some maps of Canada and go on a Canada scavenger hunt this week...
 Don't forget to check out the other posts at Mrs. Laughin's Laughings linky Peek at My Week! I always get such great ideas from other great teachers' weekly "peeks."

What's your week look like??

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tried it Tuesday: Science Studies Weekly

At least I'm getting around to blogging on Tuesdays. For this installment of Tried it Tuesday, I'm linking up once again with the fabulous Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper to share my take on Science Studies Weekly.

At our school we get a portion of our students' school fee money to spend on classroom supplies that take learning "above and beyond." Therefore, you can buy classroom magazines, bare books, or anything else that would be "consumable" that takes learning to another level. Each year, I always order classroom magazines. This year our science teaching partner convinced us to try Science Studies Weekly (there is also a Social Studies Weekly). These "newspapers" align to state science standards and feature various articles relating to each standard. There are 28 total editions - enough for "weekly" reading if you choose to use them! Click the link for a list of some possible fifth grade topics.

On our team, we've found that Science Weekly is a great way to incorporate some integration between Language Arts and Science. Students are learning science content while using nonfiction text features and strategies to help with their reading. There is also a quick quiz to accompany each week that my partner loves to use to check for comprehension and understanding of the material. The students really enjoy them and there is usually a crossword puzzle or brainteaser in each addition - who doesn't like the crossword?

As a teacher, I do like the exposure to science reading for my students. I tend to do a lot of Social Studies type readings for nonfiction since I'm the Language Arts & Social Studies teacher - so I like that my students can see me reading "science stuff." My teaching partner loved that the weeks came in three HUGE shipments so she could sort the issues by what's she was currently teaching. Thus, you don't have to read them in precise order.

My honest opinion? I'm not sure I'm as in LOVE with this text as my teaching partner, but it has really forced our students into reading nonfiction texts on a weekly basis. However, next year I think I'm going back to purchasing the magazine Super Science. Although, all the articles do not always align with her state science standards, the reading material is a little more "meaty" for the money!

If you're looking to incorporate more nonfiction, check out Studies Weekly. They have subscriptions available for K - 6th grade in Science, Social Studies, and Math. Just find your state to make sure your issues align with your content standards!

Do you subscribe to any publications? What are your favorites?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tried it Wednesday: Totally Target!

I really had the best intentions to submit my blog entry yesterday but I was just so exhausted... I was really to pack an alliteration punch with the "Tried it Tuesday: Totally Target." Has a nice ring to it doesn't? But I guess I'll just have to make "Tried it Wednesday" work!
Okay, this week I'm once again sharing my "tried it" with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesday linky party! I'm excited to share my new couponing website called, "Totally Target." I as a teacher on a budget, I usually blow said budget at Target. I always have the best intentions but Target lures in me every time!

Oh so true...

My teaching partner recently shared with an amazing website called Totally Target. Thanks Mrs. K, you're best deal diva around! Totally Target takes each week's ad and breaks down the best ways to "get you  more red for less green." They show you the in store "specials," cartwheel deals, and any manufacturer coupons available for printing! The website shows you a cost breakdown so you can see what your "savings" will be with all the offers available.  Genius and economical! 

#PicStitch of Totally Target's Website 

For example, this week there was a deal at Target for Zone Perfect protein bars. My boyfriend loves protein bars for breakfast and usually they are over $1 a piece! Target had a buy 4 and get a $5 gift card plus the bars were on sale. Not a bad deal. However, after checking Totally Target's Special Deals, I realized there were coupons available through Facebook and So I "liked" Zone Perfect on Facebook and they sent me a $3 off 2 coupon and I was able to print two $1 off 1 coupons from Plus, I checked my cartwheel and found 25% off Zone Perfect Cartwheel offer! 

Here's my cart full of protein bars plus some Capri Suns for our class party! 
So here was my breakdown:
4 boxes of Zone Perfect bars for $4.79 each              = $19.16 (Yikes!)
Then I had $5 dollars in manufacturer coupons         = $14.16 (Not much better)
Then a $5 gift card for next time at Target                 = $9.16
Then 25% off my entire purchase                              = $4.41! (That's like getting a box for FREE!)

I walked away with 20 protein bars for $4.41... that's only .22 cents a bar! Originally those bars were nearly $1 a bar!!! I feel like I've lived up to my blog namesake tonight!

Grab the deal before it's gone!
Here's the link to the $1 off 1 Zone Perfect (can print two per computer).
Here's the link to $3 off 2 Zone Perfect VIP.

Let's hope for another steal next week! 
Don't forget to visit Holly and check out the Tried it Tuesday posts!

Thank you Totally Target!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Must Read Mentor Text: A Sweet Smell of Roses

We're in the  middle of our integrated civil rights unit. Everything we're doing in Language Arts & Social Studies revolves around this time period. Thus, we're learning the history, reading historical fiction, and writing historical fiction. I absolutely love our books in this unit! We have some fantastic mentor texts that we use for this unit. So I had to link up with Amanda & Stacia to share a Must Read Mentor Text that I used to teach historical fiction writing!
One of my favorites for teaching historical fiction writing is A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson. 
 The book centers around two sisters who sneak out early one morning to join up with a march. The book hints at the roles of children during the civil rights movement. It's written in more verse than prose and has beautiful illustrations. This is a book to use a model for historical fiction writing. There is great word choice and a clear story arch. There is also tons of author's craft. The entire book focus on the "sweet smell of roses" as a metaphor for the victories of the civil rights protests. Last year, I used this book to teach mood, implied setting, and metaphors/symbolism. It's a short read that packs a punch! 

Here's two pieces of historical fiction from my students last year...using imagery, symbolism, or metaphor in their writings. Our final product was a children's book about the civil rights movement.
  This one uses "red, white, and blue" imagery.

This piece has a dove flying off into the sun at the end! Pretty good symbolism for one of my struggling writers!

Can't wait to check out everyone's fabulous Language Arts mentor texts this week! Don't forget to link up with the gals at Collaboration Cuties with your favorite mentor texts!
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