Thursday, September 29, 2011

Punctuation Takes A Vacation

Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver: Book Cover

Where would we be without punctuation? And how can teachers and parents impress its importance upon young children? Fortunately, author Robin Pulver has a light-hearted, kid-friendly solution. The book's clever storyline has a classroom teacher banishing punctuation for the day, only to have the feisty marks deciding to go on vacation. Result: the class can't write anything intelligible and begs for the errant marks to return. Young readers will learn that punctuation is there to help. Great illustrations, great fun. Considering how many students reach high school without clearly understanding the rules of punctuation, it's wonderful to have a book that catches children when they're young. Kudos to Robin Pulver and Lynn Rowe Reed for this terrific book! 

I plan on using this book next week for lessons on reading fluently. The kids love reading about the silly punctuation going on vacation. They usually never forget this lesson because they think it's so funny and we often bring it up when I hear them reading and not paying attention to punctuation. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Classroom Pics.. as promised :)

Welcome to Writing Island!

Their individual storage drawers... A great investment. Should have done this years ago!

A "Sea" of Class Helpers
 I bought this on TPT... (don't remember the source). Soooo worth the money!

 My Word Wall
There aren't many words yet! lol

 My Daily Schedule 
That green sentence strip is killing me because it's crooked! Wish I would have taken a better pic!

 My Centers Chart

(the magnetic bins are a great space saver)

Magnetic Color Coded Pockets

These are ideal for differentiated centers

Using CUPS to Edit

I'm not talking about cups we drink out of! 
CUPS is an amazing editing tool that I've used for several years now. A friend of mine found this idea somewhere in internet cyberspace so I can't even credit who started this! It's a color coded editing system that really makes my life so much easier and I LOVE it! Students are able to see their corrections easier. Sometimes (most times) the drafts become very MESSY and it's hard for me to see what they fixed as well. So in all...  CUPis great!

Here is the anchor chart I use in class. (Pardon the messy handwriting. I wrote it out as I was teaching!)

This is one of the few charts that actually stays up all year. I like to rotate my anchor charts with my lessons so that they don't just become a part of the decor in the room. I read on another blog (I don't remember who...sorry! But I'm sure it was an amazing one) that the students eventually don't even see the charts if they are up for so long. They sort of blend with the room and I have to say that is SO true! So many times I have noticed students not using reading strategy charts because the charts were up for so long that they didn't even notice them anymore! Well, this doesn't happen to my CUPS chart. They really do use it so I like to put it in an area where it is clearly visible. 

Click here to download a copy of my CUPS checklist. 

I hope I did it right. I never posted a google doc to my blog before so let me know if the document is not downloading properly. Also, I would love to hear about any feedback on the use of CUPS in your classrooms!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Exciting News!

Friends I have some great news! Someone really awesome over at BrainPOP contacted me to be a guest blogger! I'm so flattered and proud!
If you don't know what BrainPOP is... which I highly doubt because I think just about every educator should know.. but IF and that's a big is some information about the site that I got from the ABOUT US page:

Founded in 1999, BrainPOP creates animated, curriculum-based content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement. Our award-winning online educational resources includeBrainPOP Jr. (K-3), BrainPOPBrainPOP EspaƱol, and BrainPOP ESL. In June 2011, we launched GameUp™, a collection of top free online game titles that tie right in to curriculum. All of our resources are supported by BrainPOP Educators, our teacher community now more than 135,000 members strong and featuring free lesson plans, video tutorials, professional development tools, graphic organizers, best practices, groups and forums, and much more.

Ideal for both group and one-on-one settings, BrainPOP is used in numerous ways in classrooms, at home, and on mobile devices, from introducing a new lesson or topic to illustrating complex subject matter to reviewing before a test. Content is mapped to Common Core, aligned to academic standards, and easily searchable with our onlineStandards Tool. Uniquely suited for 21st-century learning, all products are fully compatible with interactive whiteboards, learner response systems, projectors, Macs, and PCs. No downloading, installation, or special hardware is required.

BrainPOP was conceived by Dr. Avraham Kadar, M.D., an immunologist and pediatrician, as a creative way to explain difficult concepts to his young patients. Today, we host more than 11 million visits to our web sites each month. We take pride in our in-house team of educators, animators, and writers, who produce and continually improve BrainPOP, incorporating valuable teacher and parent input. We are aided by diverse group of educators who serve as our Academic Advisors


In other words, the site is AMAZING and sooooo very HELPFUL! When in doubt about a lesson, search BrainPOP first! Students love the videos and they really are so interesting and thorough.

So....I have a few ideas about what I want to post as a guest blogger. I use BrainPOP on a daily basis in my classroom (and for every subject I teach) so it will be extremely difficult to narrow it down to just one topic! But I am working on it and I will also post it here! Since I do LOVE teaching ANYTHING Social Studies, it will most likely be that. Wish me luck with my decision!

Also, I'd love to know how you utilize the site in your classrooms! Leave me a comment with any great resources from the site! :)

What's your favorite thing to do on the BrainPOP website?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Inside My Classroom!

I have always loved looking at other teacher's classrooms! And now that I am part of the blogosphere, I get to see so many creative ideas that I can use in my own. This year, I credit my classroom to all of the wonderful ideas I have found while searching other blogs and of course, Pinterest.

I know many of you are well into your 6th or 7th week of school but here in NYC, we have only been in school for 3 full weeks. I have some before and after pics of my classroom bulletin boards now that they are full with student work.

I hope you enjoy my Under the Sea theme...
This is how I welcomed my students.. along with this poem.
The original idea that I got from Pinterest was much fancier (lol)

Here is where I will display my Students and Citizens of the Month. My school recognizes students that display overall good student behavior and academic achievement as well as students who display good citizenship.

 Here is a view of the classroom from the doorway. 
It's much more cluttered now that I had to 
add about 6 desks!

My Social Studies bulletin board. 


 And this is an AFTER shot. I took pictures of each child and sent home an index card asking what country(ies) their families are from. Since the students study communities around the world this year, it was a great way to begin our social studies curriculum.
Above the social studies, is my science bulletin board. In a recent post, I mentioned a great habitat and ecosystem lesson we did together and this is what I have displayed there.
School of Great Writers!


"Sink Your Teeth In A Good Book"
As a good introduction to Kevin Henkes (our author study), I gave my student's parents some homework. I had them write down how they chose their child's name and why they are perfect for their child. The responses were absolutely adorable! I had the students share them and then write why they think their names are special along with a cute illustration of Chrysanthemum.

My Classroom Library

 My "Fin"tastic Math Masters and My Math Museum
(notice the net with some blow up fish in the corner.. I got those in the Luau section of Party City)

 I do have a few more pictures to post... My outside bulletin board, a character counts display in the classroom, my "Writing Island", Center information and area, and my organizational drawers. More to come tomorrow.. I'm off to enjoy this season's first episode of Gossip Girl... It's one of my guilty pleasures!

Have a good night! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Literature Circles

Every year that I have taught 3rd grade, I have searched high and low for new ways to implement literature circles in my class. I've tried several different ways but still no luck. I was never happy with the turn out. The students were not focusing on accountable book talk. Instead, the meetings were pointless, boring, and the students were just not into it. This year, I refuse to let this happen again! 

Let's just say that when I'm determined I won't give up!

So this is what I'm planning...
1. Since I have such a large class size, I was thinking about having 4-5 students (tops!) in a group. So that would be 5 groups of 5 and 2 groups of 4.
2. Only having 5 jobs:
Question Writer, Summarizer, Vocabulary Finder, 
Illustrator, Story Mapper.
3. Use one book to teach the class each job and spend one week on each job with the students (in the past, I only spent a few days on each job). Get them really prepared to do each job independently.

4. Conduct a "fishbowl" lesson to prepare students for their first meeting. Arrange for a 4th or 5th grade literature circle group to model a literature circle meeting for my class.

5. Decide where I want them to do their literature circle jobs... In the past, I was having them do their jobs in their reading notebooks and the following year I tried worksheets. They both didn't work for me..
  • The students were not doing the jobs correctly in their notebooks because they had a difficult time sticking to the job format. 
  • I've tried using the worksheets from superteacherworksheets. This seemed to start off great but then they started losing the sheets so I put the worksheets in folders. The rotation of the jobs was confusing for them and some lost their folders.
So.... on to something new!
6. Finally, I need to figure out when they can do their jobs. For the past 2 years, I have had them do 1 day of doing their jobs in class and then 1 day meeting with their group. Not in love with this idea... Need to figure out a better way!

  • Using a separate notebook just for literature circles. No worksheets... Just a sheet with the job descriptions and having it glued right into the notebook. (Working on these right now.. I will post these once I figure out how to share docs on googledocs!)
  • I would like to do a mystery book so their conversation will be much more interesting. 
     I haven't decided yet but I was thinking... Nate the Great
or any of the A to Z Mysteries books
That's pretty much what I have so far... PLEASE HELP! :)
I'd really appreciate any ideas you may have used in your classrooms!

My FIRST Blog Award! How exciting!!

I'm the proud receiver of an "I Heart Your Blog Award"! Thank you to my best friend, Melisssa for listing my blog as one of her top 10! So happy :)

I Heart Your Blog  Award: (so sweet I had to share)A dear friend of mine taught me a profound lesson several years ago when she shared her personal mantra, "There Is Only Love". Since then, I have realized that by adopting this mantra in my own life, I have changed my whole approach to everything I experience. That being said, as a total newbie to the teacher's blogging world, I discovered this gold mine of amazingly creative and talented teachers out here in cyber space. There are so many of you spreading the teaching Love around the globe by sharing your ideas and experiences. I just had to create a blog award to celebrate those of you who have touched my heart and inspired me, increasing my LOVE of teaching.   
Thank you for sharing your talent with   the world! 

So here's what you have to do once you get one!

1. Give the "I Heart Your Blog "Award to your favorite Top 10 Blogs that have touched your heart and inspired your teaching by listing them on your blog.
2. Contact that person and let them know of their heartfelt award.
3. When you receive the award,
copy and paste the graphic on your                                                        
 blog and give a shout out to  the person who nominated you.
4. Spread the LOVE by passing the "Heart Your Blog" Award on your Top 10.
                         MY TOP TEN: (to name just 10 is so hard!)
Not sure if giving the award back is ok.. but her blog really is one of my top 10! She's like my sister and I love teaching with her!     

Teaching in High Heels


The OC Blog Button

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Favorite Websites to Use in Class

I am amazed at how many wonderful teachers there are in the blogging world. In just a month, I've learned so many new things. I was never so excited to start a school year as I've been this year since discovering the blogging world. So its with this sense of appreciation that I am linking up with
Why not share the wealth? We are sharing our favorite websites to use in the classroom. When the linky party is over, she will archive all the sites in one post.. So helpful! I've probably posted these on previous posts..

Ms.Kerriandher Krazy Kindergarten

TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

Here are some of my favorite websites to use in class...

Those are just a few I can remember right now! I have them mostly saved on my computer at work.. 

Have an awesome night! :)