Saturday, August 1, 2015

Light a Fire with a Good Book AND WIN!

Ready or not, it is that time again! Back-to-School is just around the corner for me, and although I am soaking up these last few weeks of summer bliss with my little man, I am starting to think of those first few days!

Several of us bloggers have come together to give you some awesome ideas for Back to School Books! These books can be used to set up your classroom community, begin a good lesson, or just as a fun read-aloud.



The book I'd like to share with you is...

 It's a great book for teacher character, acceptance, and understanding differences!

The first 3 days of school are crucial in developing relationships and making my classroom feel safe and loving. Classroom environment is my top priority, and I want my students to be set up for success!

Have you read this book? I have to warn you, it is an emotional one. Each year my heart warms watching my students' reactions to this book. When I read to them the dedication page and they learn it is a true story, their eyes fill will wonder, awe, and understanding. THAT'S when the magic happens!

I use one of my FAVORITE resources for my classroom with this book: Jivey's Mentor Sentences & Complete No Prep Better than Basal Unit!

I set this book up from the moment my students walk into my room on the second day. (I promise to take pictures of this this school year, I always forget with the beginning craziness!)

 I have 4 containers of scents at the front of the room: vanilla, mint, lemon, and licorice (I use oil scents from Walmart.) Students silently pick their favorite, write it down with their name on a piece of paper, and give it to me. They of course look at me like I'm crazy when I ask them to smell them. :)

After reading the book that part of the book, you can see them look around and start to understand.

When the book is finished, without further discussion or instruction, I put students into their "tribes" for the next few weeks based on their scent choice. Once they are in their tribe, I give each group a big piece of poster board. They divide it up into as many squares as there are students in their group + 1.

Each student writes all the things that makes them unique and different in their individual square. Then, working as a group they write down all the things that they have in common and share interests about (I let them draw, too!)

We share these with the class and have a long discussion about community, respect to differences, and originality. It is one of my favorite days and I learn SO much about my students.

I highly recommend reading this with your kiddos at some point during the year!

I also start of the week training my students with our centers rotation. I use my monthly centers and love seeing their excitement about them!


And have you heard? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide Back to School Sale August 3rd and 4th, so you will be able to get [this product] 28% off using the promo code BTS15!

We know what else really "lights a fire" in you, and that is fabulous technology! We are giving away a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 to one lucky winner! 
Enter the rafflecopter below by hopping through each of our blogs and entering the secret word that can be found on the tablet in each of our posts. Also make sure to follow our TPT stores because the winner will be announced through a message in your TPT inbox! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are also giving away a $25 gift certificate to Creative Teaching Press!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck! We hope you have a successful start to your school year! 




Monday, March 30, 2015

Teaching Nonfiction Text Features with a {Freebie!}

Don't you love when the stars line up and a week of lessons goes better than you imagined? Honestly, that's how this past week went!

After getting our results back from our state test last year, I realized that my students needed more reinforcement on nonfiction text features.

This year, I decided to spend a week focusing on fiction vs. nonfiction, and really diving into how those nonfiction text features helped us be better readers.

Then, something wonderful happened! I found out that our kindergarten buddies were focusing on nonfiction for the week, too! A light bulb went off in my head… what better way for my 4th graders to truly understand, then to learn, and then teach it to their buddies!

I talked with the Kindergarten teachers and they were so excited for it, too! So we kicked it off on Monday with a little nonfiction vs. fiction comparison chart, and book title sort!





We used the first two pages from my Teaching Nonfiction Text Features booklet to do this. I loved watching the Kindergarteners and 4th graders working together and learning from each other. Both had such great ideas! We put bins around the room of nonfiction and fiction titles all mixed up, and they had to look through them and sort the titles into the correct box. Having these books around also helped them with the comparison chart!


When they were finished with this activity, they had to show a teacher to get their next activity-- a Scholastic book order cut and paste sort! They had SO much fun with this.









How gorgeous do these look all hung up?! :) You can get this sort page for free by clicking here or on the photos above!

Throughout the week we then continued working in our text features booklet. We would discuss 2-3 text features a day, write down how we use them, and draw an example of it in a book. I then had students spend some time reading a nonfiction book of their choice, and do a quick written response about what they learned in their writing journals!


On Friday, we got back together with our buddies to review what we had learned! The last page of my text features booklet is a text features treasure hunt! Kindergarten and 4th graders worked together to hunt through nonfiction books and find an example of each type of text feature! If they finished, they got a little "gold" (chocolate gold coin) as their treasure! They were SO excited when they found each one. You can pick up a copy of my Teaching Nonfiction Text Features unit here! It also includes colorful pieces for an anchor chart that stays up in my room all year long!

How do you teach nonfiction text features? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Big Reveal: Famous American Projects!

On the first day of school during Q & A one of the first questions is always, "When do we do the Wax Museum?!" The excitement builds all year, and the kiddos are so ready by the time it is here! We spend 3 1/2 weeks on this project.

There are 3 parts: The research paper, a brochure, and a speech/costume to dress as their Famous American! We "open" our wax museum at Open House for parents, and at school for 2 hours for all of the students to go through. 

Every year I am amazing at what my students research and learn. They can choose anyone from the list of 50+ Americans I give them, or write a 3-5 sentence persuasive paragraph why they should get to do someone not on the list.

Without further adieu, here are pictures of it all in action!


{Speech practice before the big day!}


{Placing his American in the right place on the hall way time line-- I do an informal timeline grade with this!}

{Our hallway timeline}


{Entrance to the museum}

{Gabby Douglas and Mia Hamm}

{Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, me, Mickey Mantle, and Walter Payton}


{Ginger Rogers, Mary Cassat, Shirley Temple, and Mary Kay Ash}


{Mary Kay Ash- she was ADORABLE in action! Complete with a southern accent. :) }

{Mary Cassat, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Norman Rockwell}

{Guion Bluford and Neil Armstrong}

{Alexander Graham Bell--loved the whole display!}

{Clara Barton}

{This one was AH-mazing! He is my little light show director (see yesterday's post) and he was so excited about being Nikola Tessla! He even showed how he "made lightning" during his speech!}


{A close up of a timeline at their stations}



{Group photo!}


As you can see, my students were VERY passionate about their projects! It is one of my favorite things to do each year, and I love seeing how proud they are of their work. We throw a big party the Monday after it's all done to celebrate their hard work--This year we had Red, White, and Blue rice krispies, jello, punch, and popcorn! We watched 2 episodes of Liberty Kids, too. :)

If you'd like to try out this project with your kiddos, I have a step-by-step guide in my TPT store with everything you need!


I'm linking this up with my BBB Joanne because this unit certainly sparks student motivation in my classroom! :)


Friday, March 27, 2015

An Island in the Snow? Looking back at our week!

Happy Friday, everyone! I am officially on Spring Break…. yahoo!! :) Here's what we've been up to this week!

1. I am SO proud of my students who meet during small group time for Close Reading activities. They are becoming text evidence experts, and I love seeing their progress. I use a lot of Fifth in the Middle's Close Reads, and they are a wonderful for my students! I love how they are differentiated so I can use the same topic with multiple reading groups.


2. My kiddos have made SO much progress in their grammar skills this year. We actually looked back at our first Mentor Sentence of the year this week to see how far we've come. We use Ideas by Jivey's Mentor Sentences Units and LOVE them! Honest to goodness, my students get excited for grammar. If you don't have these, RUN to her store and get them now! :)



3. We did some Reader and Writer's spotlight this week! First, I passed out scripts from this book of Fabulous Idiom Plays.   I put my kiddos in groups, they assigned character roles, and practiced. We performed a few at the end of each day. They LOVED them. Then, they wrote their own with their group! It was a BLAST! 


{One of my sweeties is HUGE into light shows, and he brought us in a spotlight to use for our writer and reader's spotlight!! SO fun!}

4. We started some Project Based Learning using the topics: The 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Mr. George Ferris, the original Ferris Wheel, and other World's Fairs. I will be blogging more about this soon; it is so awesome what they are doing!


5. Today was our last day before Spring Break, so it was Island Day! Of course, true to Ohio form, we have an inch of snow on the ground to celebrate… YAY! [insert sarcastic voice] We celebrated with beach ball fun in the cafeteria, island gear and decorations, watching a beach movie with our Kindergarten buddies, and snow cones!







I hope you had a wonderful week! Check back tomorrow to see tons of pictures from our Living Wax Museum! :)