Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Photo, Blurb & Coming Soon . . .

Did you see it?  Did you see it?  If you're reading through an RSS feed, you'll have to click through to my blog.  Go ahead.  I'm waiting.

Now, look to the right.  See that.  Over there.


I added a photo and a little blurb to my side bar.  Now you can put a face with the blog.  I'm super pleased with how it turned out.

I never take photos of myself.  I'm always the one with the camera, so finding a good photo to use was tough.  I finally just took a few selfies after my haircut last week and chose the best one.  It was outside and my glasses were starting to tint, but they're not too dark yet.

Love it!

Cue awkward segue . . .

I've been slaving over a new resource for the past couple months.  I'm ALMOST done with it and I'm super excited to share it with you all!

It's Cut & Paste Math Activities for every second grade standard.  I mean EVERY standard.  There's a total of 52 pages of content for students, plus answer keys.


This has been a long project in the making.  My students have been doing some of the activities as I've been developing the pages and I've had positive responses from them.  You could say, it's "student approved!"

I'm finishing up the answer keys, which should be done in the next couple of days and then it's ready!

A sweet tidbit of information for you . . . the photograph on the cover is my four-year-old practicing his cutting skills on one of the pages.  I love it!

Hope you're having a great week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Expository / Informational Writing Week 3

We're on Spring Break! Yeah!  I'm not doing anything special this week, except having more time with my own kiddos, blogging, and working on a few products.

For the past couple weeks, I've been blogging about what I'm doing during our Writer's Workshop time to teach expository / informational writing.  Here's the first post and the second post.  Last week was our third week and I changed things up a little bit more.

This week, we worked on expanding sentences, combining sentences and making sure our facts were related.   Too much for one week, but it did give me a focus for the next several weeks.

We studies wolves this week:


On Monday we read a book and watched a video about wolves.  I didn't find any good videos, so I'm not going to link one.  The one I found was just okay and not worth watching again.

On Tuesday, the students did a closed sort (no photos), like we did in previous weeks.  They also completed an Expand It worksheet.


I wrote a few of the simple sentences and students added because, but, and, or, to, so to expand them. All this information is in students' heads.  I know most of them know why a wolf has strong jaws, how they're related to dogs, and why they travel in packs so long.  They're pretty simple reasons and each reason could be written in a variety of ways.  I wanted them to work on creating complex sentences.  Unfortunately, I went home sick this afternoon, so I didn't actually do this with my kiddos, my student teacher did.  I'm not sure how successful they were with it, because I didn't get to do it with them.

This week, I didn't have students glue down the closed sort they did on Tuesday, and on Thursday (no writing time on Wednesday), I worked with students on doing an open sort.  I don't have photos of my instruction, but what I did was display three sentences together, two that were related to how a wolf eats and one to how it looks.  We analyzed each sentence and underlined the key word that told the topic of the sentence, like eat, jaws, etc.

We discussed how two of the sentences were related to each other and that the third has nothing to do with the other two.  I emphasized that the third can't be put in the same group and that it shouldn't be in the same paragraph when writing.  We did it again, with three more sentences, one sentence being out of the group.  And, again, with three more sentences.  Students were ready to try it on their own.



After students sorted their sentences, I asked the partners which one they wanted to write about.  I put a box around it and then talked (briefly) with the group about how to combine some of the sentences and how to order them.  This was a brief discussion with each pair of students.  I'm not sure how effective it was, but the idea is there.  We'll do more work on it after Spring Break.

Students then wrote their numbered sentences on plain paper.



We did our final paragraphs on Friday, but most students aren't done yet, so we'll have to finish them after Spring Break.  I wanted to get them done before the break, but time wasn't on our side!

Friday afternoon, I also showed students the three things they need to do in expository writing (it's in the standard).  I emphasized how we have been doing those three parts and showed them the anchor charts for each one.


What are we going to do next week when we get back?  Ladybugs, I think.  I'll focus on related facts, again, and on combining sentences, I think.  I may also create a checklist with the three above sentences as well as expand and combine sentences.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Classroom Library Redo

A couple weeks ago I posted a picture of my classroom library and asked for some input on how to organize it so that it wasn't so messy!  I wanted students to have access to the books and have them organized so that students could find books easily.

You all had some great suggestions!  Thank you for all your thoughtful comments.  I kinda melded a few of the suggestions together to create this "system".  We'll see how it works!

Here's what I've come up with:


First, disregard the top of the bookshelves.  I've just thrown stuff up there at this point.  The top shelf of the bookshelf in the magazine files are all leveled books, A-P.  The lower books, A-D, are various Scholastic Readers.  The books E-P come from our Treasures reading program and Lakeshore.  I don't use them for my small group reading instruction, so I make them available for students to read.

Below that, there are two sides, one for fiction and one for nonfiction.  I need to change the color of fiction label to match the boxes, but you get the idea.  Each of the boxes has a label on it with a number.

These are the first five boxes.  As you can see, there are about 13 boxes.  I ran out of boxes, so the picture books are on the bottom shelf.  They are not organized.  Mainly because I can't figure out categories for them and I ran out of time this week.  Plus, they seemed kinda contained on that bottom shelf.  I know I have a lot of books out in students' book boxes, so when those come back in, I may have more than I can handle!  We'll see.

I got the boxes from Really Good Stuff.  My students use the same boxes for their book boxes, so I was able to test them out ahead of time.  The regular chapter books can fit two across (like Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House).  The easy readers (like Henry and Mudge) only fit one across.  I may need two boxes for those.

Each of the books has a number taped to the inside of the front cover.  I was going to put it on the cover, but decided not to detract from the covers.  The number tells which box the box goes in, if students can't figure it out.  It all tells whether the book is fiction or nonfiction based on the color.  I'm not anywhere near done labeling all the books, but it's a start!

It's only been a couple of days, but so far, I'm liking how my library looks.  With the smaller boxes, it's much easier to find everything and I can create more categories in a smaller amount of space.

As for the categories, I looked at the books that I had in my library and created boxes based on what I had.  I fudged a little bit and made a box of "All About Boys" and "All About Girls" for those books that don't have a home.  I also have a box of just "I Can Read" Books.  For nonfiction, I again went through what I had and created the categories.  I came up with mammals, insects & reptiles (which includes dinosaurs), ocean life, magic school bus, biographies, sports, math, animals (mixed), social studies, and science.  The social studies and science boxes are books that, when sorted, only had a few books in each category, so I made broader categories.  They kinda mimic my "all about" categories in fiction.

What do you think?  Can the kiddos keep it organized?  Will it work?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tech Tips for Teachers

I had the awesome opportunity to contribute to the Tech Tips for Teachers eBook that is currently available on TpT.


There's a ton of great ideas on how to successfully add technology to your classrooms.  It's also full of techy freebies.  Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look How I Have Grown - Spring Craftivity

My students spent this week reflecting on second grade and completing their Look How I Have Grown Spring Craftivity.  I created this craftivity to hang in our windows.



It's really hard to take a photo of reflective tinted glass!  I love how the flowers turned out with the addition of grass and stems.  It makes it look so colorful and springy!


The activity has students reflect on all the things they've learned in second grade.  We first sat on the carpet and made an anchor chart that mimicked the graphic organizer students were going to fill out next.  The most difficult thing was asking students to be specific.  They were so focused on generic subjects, not skills.  Referring to your objectives will help with this, too!

Next, students filled out their graphic organizer, which has bullets for each petal.  I checked over their graphic organizers before they filled out their petals.  Then they colored, cut, and glued.


Want to pick up a copy?  It's in my TpT Store.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Expository Writing This Week

This week during writing, we wrote about the Spade Foot Toad.  Here's last week's post, if you'd like to see more detail about what we're doing.

Mainly I chose this animal because there was a recent Scholastic News article about it.  There weren't many good videos about the toad, but we made do.

Here's our chart after reading and watching the videos:



I had students sort the sentences into categories.  Last week's sentences were all pretty simple sentences.  This week's are more complicated.  I didn't really "check" sentences to see if they were sorted correctly.  It's more about the experience of categorizing sentences and concepts.


Today, I introduced students to three different ways to introduce their topics.  We brainstormed a bunch of different examples for each way, but I only wrote one down for each category.  Students were able to choose which sentence they wanted to use when introducing their topic.


When students wrote their paragraphs this week, I encouraged them to use related facts, rather than just three random facts.  We need to do a lot of work on that.  I'm thinking somehow pairing the sentences, not just sorting them.  Also work on important facts versus non-important facts.

Here's a few samples from today.  Not all students finished.




I gave students the concluding statement.  We'll do that either next week or the week after.  So far, we've done turtles and toads.  I'm not sure what we're doing next week yet.  I've got to see what I have, in terms of informational texts.

Overall, I'm liking the process, but I feel like we should have been doing it all year long, not just within one unit.  Next year!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Classroom Library - I need your input

Here's a picture of my current classroom library:




It's a mess.  I'm struggling with how to organize it so that the students have easy access to books, but it's not a mess all the time!

At one point, I had students putting the books back in their respective boxes, but things ended up in all kinds of places!  Now, I have them return books to the baskets you see on the floor.  But, I have no time to organize the books.

You see, in second grade, we have picture books and chapter books.  That makes for a lot of different kinds of books to organize.  Plus, the top row is guided reading books (levels A-P).

I've figured out that I want a row of leveled readers (the top) and sides for fiction and nonfiction (see the labels).  I want kiddos to have the books organized by categories, not AR level or Lexile level.  I used to use Lexile level and then switched to AR level.  I'm not sure of all the categories yet, since I'm not sure what books I have that would go into which categories.  I feel like I need to sort the books first, then figure out the categories.

I ordered some book boxes that I think will work for us.  I ordered two colors, one for fiction and one for nonfiction.

I was thinking each category would have a number and each book would have a colored sticker with a number.  Students could return the book, matching the color and the number.  Simple enough, right?  Anyone tried this before?  Does it work?

I have two questions for you:

  1. How do you organize your classroom library?
  2. How do students return books to the library?
I don't have a check out system for the students and I'm not interested in doing that.  Students don't take books home and if I lose a couple a year, I 'm not worried about it.

I'd love to hear your input on what you do for your classroom library.  We really need something different, so I'm totally open to ideas!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Photo, Blurb & Coming Soon . . .

Did you see it?  Did you see it?  If you're reading through an RSS feed, you'll have to click through to my blog.  Go ahead.  I'm waiting.

Now, look to the right.  See that.  Over there.


I added a photo and a little blurb to my side bar.  Now you can put a face with the blog.  I'm super pleased with how it turned out.

I never take photos of myself.  I'm always the one with the camera, so finding a good photo to use was tough.  I finally just took a few selfies after my haircut last week and chose the best one.  It was outside and my glasses were starting to tint, but they're not too dark yet.

Love it!

Cue awkward segue . . .

I've been slaving over a new resource for the past couple months.  I'm ALMOST done with it and I'm super excited to share it with you all!

It's Cut & Paste Math Activities for every second grade standard.  I mean EVERY standard.  There's a total of 52 pages of content for students, plus answer keys.


This has been a long project in the making.  My students have been doing some of the activities as I've been developing the pages and I've had positive responses from them.  You could say, it's "student approved!"

I'm finishing up the answer keys, which should be done in the next couple of days and then it's ready!

A sweet tidbit of information for you . . . the photograph on the cover is my four-year-old practicing his cutting skills on one of the pages.  I love it!

Hope you're having a great week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Expository / Informational Writing Week 3

We're on Spring Break! Yeah!  I'm not doing anything special this week, except having more time with my own kiddos, blogging, and working on a few products.

For the past couple weeks, I've been blogging about what I'm doing during our Writer's Workshop time to teach expository / informational writing.  Here's the first post and the second post.  Last week was our third week and I changed things up a little bit more.

This week, we worked on expanding sentences, combining sentences and making sure our facts were related.   Too much for one week, but it did give me a focus for the next several weeks.

We studies wolves this week:


On Monday we read a book and watched a video about wolves.  I didn't find any good videos, so I'm not going to link one.  The one I found was just okay and not worth watching again.

On Tuesday, the students did a closed sort (no photos), like we did in previous weeks.  They also completed an Expand It worksheet.


I wrote a few of the simple sentences and students added because, but, and, or, to, so to expand them. All this information is in students' heads.  I know most of them know why a wolf has strong jaws, how they're related to dogs, and why they travel in packs so long.  They're pretty simple reasons and each reason could be written in a variety of ways.  I wanted them to work on creating complex sentences.  Unfortunately, I went home sick this afternoon, so I didn't actually do this with my kiddos, my student teacher did.  I'm not sure how successful they were with it, because I didn't get to do it with them.

This week, I didn't have students glue down the closed sort they did on Tuesday, and on Thursday (no writing time on Wednesday), I worked with students on doing an open sort.  I don't have photos of my instruction, but what I did was display three sentences together, two that were related to how a wolf eats and one to how it looks.  We analyzed each sentence and underlined the key word that told the topic of the sentence, like eat, jaws, etc.

We discussed how two of the sentences were related to each other and that the third has nothing to do with the other two.  I emphasized that the third can't be put in the same group and that it shouldn't be in the same paragraph when writing.  We did it again, with three more sentences, one sentence being out of the group.  And, again, with three more sentences.  Students were ready to try it on their own.



After students sorted their sentences, I asked the partners which one they wanted to write about.  I put a box around it and then talked (briefly) with the group about how to combine some of the sentences and how to order them.  This was a brief discussion with each pair of students.  I'm not sure how effective it was, but the idea is there.  We'll do more work on it after Spring Break.

Students then wrote their numbered sentences on plain paper.



We did our final paragraphs on Friday, but most students aren't done yet, so we'll have to finish them after Spring Break.  I wanted to get them done before the break, but time wasn't on our side!

Friday afternoon, I also showed students the three things they need to do in expository writing (it's in the standard).  I emphasized how we have been doing those three parts and showed them the anchor charts for each one.


What are we going to do next week when we get back?  Ladybugs, I think.  I'll focus on related facts, again, and on combining sentences, I think.  I may also create a checklist with the three above sentences as well as expand and combine sentences.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Classroom Library Redo

A couple weeks ago I posted a picture of my classroom library and asked for some input on how to organize it so that it wasn't so messy!  I wanted students to have access to the books and have them organized so that students could find books easily.

You all had some great suggestions!  Thank you for all your thoughtful comments.  I kinda melded a few of the suggestions together to create this "system".  We'll see how it works!

Here's what I've come up with:


First, disregard the top of the bookshelves.  I've just thrown stuff up there at this point.  The top shelf of the bookshelf in the magazine files are all leveled books, A-P.  The lower books, A-D, are various Scholastic Readers.  The books E-P come from our Treasures reading program and Lakeshore.  I don't use them for my small group reading instruction, so I make them available for students to read.

Below that, there are two sides, one for fiction and one for nonfiction.  I need to change the color of fiction label to match the boxes, but you get the idea.  Each of the boxes has a label on it with a number.

These are the first five boxes.  As you can see, there are about 13 boxes.  I ran out of boxes, so the picture books are on the bottom shelf.  They are not organized.  Mainly because I can't figure out categories for them and I ran out of time this week.  Plus, they seemed kinda contained on that bottom shelf.  I know I have a lot of books out in students' book boxes, so when those come back in, I may have more than I can handle!  We'll see.

I got the boxes from Really Good Stuff.  My students use the same boxes for their book boxes, so I was able to test them out ahead of time.  The regular chapter books can fit two across (like Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House).  The easy readers (like Henry and Mudge) only fit one across.  I may need two boxes for those.

Each of the books has a number taped to the inside of the front cover.  I was going to put it on the cover, but decided not to detract from the covers.  The number tells which box the box goes in, if students can't figure it out.  It all tells whether the book is fiction or nonfiction based on the color.  I'm not anywhere near done labeling all the books, but it's a start!

It's only been a couple of days, but so far, I'm liking how my library looks.  With the smaller boxes, it's much easier to find everything and I can create more categories in a smaller amount of space.

As for the categories, I looked at the books that I had in my library and created boxes based on what I had.  I fudged a little bit and made a box of "All About Boys" and "All About Girls" for those books that don't have a home.  I also have a box of just "I Can Read" Books.  For nonfiction, I again went through what I had and created the categories.  I came up with mammals, insects & reptiles (which includes dinosaurs), ocean life, magic school bus, biographies, sports, math, animals (mixed), social studies, and science.  The social studies and science boxes are books that, when sorted, only had a few books in each category, so I made broader categories.  They kinda mimic my "all about" categories in fiction.

What do you think?  Can the kiddos keep it organized?  Will it work?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tech Tips for Teachers

I had the awesome opportunity to contribute to the Tech Tips for Teachers eBook that is currently available on TpT.


There's a ton of great ideas on how to successfully add technology to your classrooms.  It's also full of techy freebies.  Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look How I Have Grown - Spring Craftivity

My students spent this week reflecting on second grade and completing their Look How I Have Grown Spring Craftivity.  I created this craftivity to hang in our windows.



It's really hard to take a photo of reflective tinted glass!  I love how the flowers turned out with the addition of grass and stems.  It makes it look so colorful and springy!


The activity has students reflect on all the things they've learned in second grade.  We first sat on the carpet and made an anchor chart that mimicked the graphic organizer students were going to fill out next.  The most difficult thing was asking students to be specific.  They were so focused on generic subjects, not skills.  Referring to your objectives will help with this, too!

Next, students filled out their graphic organizer, which has bullets for each petal.  I checked over their graphic organizers before they filled out their petals.  Then they colored, cut, and glued.


Want to pick up a copy?  It's in my TpT Store.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Expository Writing This Week

This week during writing, we wrote about the Spade Foot Toad.  Here's last week's post, if you'd like to see more detail about what we're doing.

Mainly I chose this animal because there was a recent Scholastic News article about it.  There weren't many good videos about the toad, but we made do.

Here's our chart after reading and watching the videos:



I had students sort the sentences into categories.  Last week's sentences were all pretty simple sentences.  This week's are more complicated.  I didn't really "check" sentences to see if they were sorted correctly.  It's more about the experience of categorizing sentences and concepts.


Today, I introduced students to three different ways to introduce their topics.  We brainstormed a bunch of different examples for each way, but I only wrote one down for each category.  Students were able to choose which sentence they wanted to use when introducing their topic.


When students wrote their paragraphs this week, I encouraged them to use related facts, rather than just three random facts.  We need to do a lot of work on that.  I'm thinking somehow pairing the sentences, not just sorting them.  Also work on important facts versus non-important facts.

Here's a few samples from today.  Not all students finished.




I gave students the concluding statement.  We'll do that either next week or the week after.  So far, we've done turtles and toads.  I'm not sure what we're doing next week yet.  I've got to see what I have, in terms of informational texts.

Overall, I'm liking the process, but I feel like we should have been doing it all year long, not just within one unit.  Next year!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Classroom Library - I need your input

Here's a picture of my current classroom library:




It's a mess.  I'm struggling with how to organize it so that the students have easy access to books, but it's not a mess all the time!

At one point, I had students putting the books back in their respective boxes, but things ended up in all kinds of places!  Now, I have them return books to the baskets you see on the floor.  But, I have no time to organize the books.

You see, in second grade, we have picture books and chapter books.  That makes for a lot of different kinds of books to organize.  Plus, the top row is guided reading books (levels A-P).

I've figured out that I want a row of leveled readers (the top) and sides for fiction and nonfiction (see the labels).  I want kiddos to have the books organized by categories, not AR level or Lexile level.  I used to use Lexile level and then switched to AR level.  I'm not sure of all the categories yet, since I'm not sure what books I have that would go into which categories.  I feel like I need to sort the books first, then figure out the categories.

I ordered some book boxes that I think will work for us.  I ordered two colors, one for fiction and one for nonfiction.

I was thinking each category would have a number and each book would have a colored sticker with a number.  Students could return the book, matching the color and the number.  Simple enough, right?  Anyone tried this before?  Does it work?

I have two questions for you:

  1. How do you organize your classroom library?
  2. How do students return books to the library?
I don't have a check out system for the students and I'm not interested in doing that.  Students don't take books home and if I lose a couple a year, I 'm not worried about it.

I'd love to hear your input on what you do for your classroom library.  We really need something different, so I'm totally open to ideas!