Saturday, March 31, 2012

Camp Read-A-Lot and much more...

Next week is going to be a crazy one.  We have Camp Read-A-Lot, classroom speech contest, and conferences.  I am so thankful we have Friday and then the whole week off for spring break.  because I don't think I could make it 5 days with all that happening.

Camp Read-A-Lot is a week of literacy activities.  Some teachers go all out and bring in tents.  I don't go quite that far but we have picked the theme of FAIRY TALES!!  My partner and I wanted to do castles, because we have like a million boys, but I realized that just doing castles didn't leave us open to as many actual stories and our 2nd graders are struggling with various story elements and the 3rd graders are struggling with point of view.  So we changed to fairy tales.

So today I have a little sneak peak for you....I say little because I always procrastinate and I don't have everything done : /

Here is a look at my awesome door!  I picked Jack and the Beanstalk    after my teacher partner stole liked my Hansel and Gretel idea and wanted to use it for his door.  Monday I will be reading the book to discuss elements of a fairy tale and the kids will fill out this chart.

I got the idea from  and then tweaked it to fit my classes needs.  They will then fill out the chart for other stories they read or listen to at our 10 fairy tale centers during the week.

One of our centers for the week is a word building center.  I have been using Making Words with my 2nd graders. and Making Big Word with my 3rd graders for Word Work.

So I decided to create a fairy tale version.  I used the words Goldilocks, Rumpelstiltskin,  Wicked Witch, Fairy Tale, Beanstalk, and Gingerbread.  To make my own cards.  Students will try to make as many new words as they can from the letters in each of those words.  If you look at the cards and wicked witch is out of order because I did Hansel and Gretel and then I decided that they were too short. 
Fairt Tale Words

All the clip art comes from

Look out for more fairy tale ideas next week!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Library Issues

I love nothing more than an organized book husband calls that OCD, I just call it good sense.

So I have spent the last 2 summers trying to organize my classroom library (this is very important since I teach reading to almost 60 kids and they need to find the latest Wimpy Kid book NOW!).  Last school year I labeled my bins but didn't do the books.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  I can't believe I actually expected my kids to remember what genre a book was!!!  I couldn't stand the constant questions!

Old Library with unlabeled books.  
This picture was for my masters class.  They are really good at pretending aren't they?

 I spent all summer sorting and labeling books by genre and level.  Each book has the DRA2 level and the Reading A-Z level on it.  You can get both (more both books) on the
Scholastic Book Wizard here:

If I couldn't find the book level there I went to the Lexile Website 

 My school gave me a handy cheat card (that I forgot to take a picture of at work today) that corresponds all the different leveling methods so as long as I can find one, I have them all!  I even made a spreadsheet so that when I get new books I can easily remember what other books I have and when I get doubles of popular books everything is already done for me.  My 3rd graders this year (who I had as 2nd graders last year)  quickly told me how much better the new system was.  The smarites even asked "why didn't I do it this way last year"....if only.

 This is my new and improved also get a close up of the labels I made.  Each book has a smaller version of the picture that matches the label.  It also lists the genre and reading level.

So here is my new problem that I need to tackle this summer:

Non-Fiction books and Buddy Reading Books. 

1.  I didn't sort them last summer because I ran out of time/ got tired of sorting and labeling.  So the kids know that books without labels are non-fiction.  I have some Non-Fiction books that I don't want kids to put in their book bins.  The books are tooo big and then there is a fight to put bins on the top shelf because, as you can see in the picture, an overfull book bin won't fit in the tiny cubby.  So, do I just put them on a new shelf where you can't take those books (like I do dictionaries...which often mysteriously end up in book bins, no one puts them there, they just walk right it on their own).  OR do I put special labels on them?

That shelf is my non-fiction shelf.  It is usually a big mess.  I think I had good librarians that week.

See what I mean about the tiny book bins.  Funny thing is that Gorilla book he has in his hand is on the "do not put in book bin list".  Also, you know that kid who has a really high reading level and his only goal in life is to find gross things in non-ficiton books and then share them with their teacher who is easily grossed you don't have a kid like that?  Well I do and thats him.

2.  My lovely 2nd and 3rd graders can't seem to understand the concept of putting two identical books back on the shelf right next to each other. Our buddy reading books have their own shelf that I forgot to take a picture of.   I need some way to keep multiple copes of books together.  Come to think of it those also mysteriously end up in book bins, there must be a book party in my room at night.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome!  This is my first official post.  I'm a 2/3rd grade reading, social studies and writing teacher.  Out school just started have teachers "specialize" this year.  At first I was total against it.  I had spent a lot of time creating a lot of cross circular activites that I loved and didn't want to give up :(  However, as the year has progressed I really see how great this is for both myself and the kids.  I also see a lot of room for improvement; but being my hardest critic I always do.

This blog is meant to be a reflection of changes I am trying to make in my own reading, social studies, and writing instruction within my classroom.  I hope you can find something useful in your own classroom, or help me make what I'm doing better.  As long as you can look past a few spelling errors and typos (if you can't then you probably won't like my blog lol).

It's also where I plan to share some of my favorite students stories that make me laugh, because lets face it, it's the laughs that get us teachers through even the roughest days.

I'n order to kick this blog off the way I would a school year I'm going to share some pictures of my favorite things.  I share these pictures with my class on the first day of school, they then end up on the front of my writing journal.  This is how our year-long journey begins!

My vicious Pitt-Bull and star of many stories I write for my class
Books!  I love to read and love to share that fact with my kids every chance I get!
My favorite Flower

I love to travel and the beach!
Cheerleading!  I am a coach of a successful cheerleading team (not UK, but they are our classroom's college this year)  My cheerleaders are also a very popular writing topic, at least for the girls!

Well thats all for now!