My school received a grant last year that will allow us to purchase new books for our classroom library. I am looking for book recommendations that you have used with your students or your students most popular book choices. Please share!

My students favorites so far this year are Goosebumps, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Magic Tree House. I would really love to build my historical fiction and science fiction collection.

Here are a few results from the Reading Survey students took during the first few days of school.

Do you like Reading?

Yes 27 82%
NO 6 18%

What do you like about Reading?
It is relaxing, alot of things, some books are filled with imagination and fariytales that have princesses and princes and monsters that are nice and mean, what I like about reading is when there are mysterys going on, I like to read it is fun it helps you in school, I like to read the Avengers, I get to read about Ramona but I like reading Diary of a wimpy Kid

What don't you like about Reading?
the long words,sometimes it takes to long, sometimes the words are hard and I dont know how to say them and I stop reading, Some words are hard,It is hard to flip the pages,

Are you currently reading a book for pleasure?

Yes 22 67%
No 11 33%

Do you ever read a book for pleasure?

Yes 27 82%
No 6 18%

When I read for pleasure, I pick the following types of books. Choose all that apply.

Chapter Books 17 52%
picture books 14 42%
sports books 14 42%
poetry books 9 27%
magazines 16 48%
newspapers 2 6%
non-fiction books 12 36%
fantasy books 12 36%

In fiction books, I like to read about:

fantasy 16 48%
mystery 15 45%
science fiction 9 27%
historical fiction 6 18%
realistic fiction 5 15%
realistic stories about people 6 18%
poetry 7 21%
humor 10 30%
adventure 14 42%

In non-fiction books, I like to read about:

animals 23 70%
history 8 24%
sports 14 42%
hobbies 10 30%
science 6 18%
math 10 30%
famous people 10 30%
music 16 48%

List your three favorite books.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid,, The Monster High Diaries, Princess and the Frog, Goosebumps, The Three little Pigs, The Magic School Bus and Little Red Riding Hood,Tarzan, Where the Wild things Are, The Avengers

In the past week, I have read for at least 30 minutes.

No days 13 39%
1-2 days 11 33%
3-4 days 2 6%
6-7 days 7 21%

My favorite time to read for pleasure is

Never 6 18%
during school 7 21%
after school 15 45%
whenever I can 9 27%
before I go to bed 12 36%
while waiting for the bus 6 18%

The number of books I have at home

None 6 18%
0-9 9 27%
10-19 6 18%
20-29 2 6%
30-50 3 9%
More than 50 7 21%

Tell us a little something about you...

I'm Erica and am a 4th grade ELA teacher. I have been married for seven years and have three boys. My twin boys began PreK-3 today and were not happy campers when we left them. They were kicking and screaming for us not to leave. It was heartbreaking. Patrick Jr. who is 4 begins Prek-4 on Wednesday. He insists he is going to be strong and not cry. I think I may do some crying for both of us. My boys are growing up! I am currently in my last semester of Grad School and can't wait for graduation. I will have my Masters in Educational Leadership and Technology in December. Yeah!!!

How long have you been teaching?

I am going into my ninth year teaching. I began teaching 4th/5th grade Math, Science and Social Studies for 2 1/2 years. Then, I decided to get my English as a Second Language Certification, due to my love for teaching English Language Learners. The following year I moved into an ELL position and stayed there for 3 years until I was bumped. For the last three years, I have been teaching 4th grade ELA and love every minute of it. I still have my ELLs!

You might not know...

1. I drink half a cup of coffee every morning in a Mardi Gras cup. I never finish the whole thing!

2. I spend at least 2 hours a night on my computer reading blogs, posting, tweeting, reading emails,and reading status updates on Facebook.

3. I won a Technology grant for this coming school year and am anxiously awaiting my equipment.

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I am looking forward to helping all my students succeed. I am looking forward to all of my students building their comprehension and fluency. I am looking forward to them all passing the state test in April. I am looking forward to all their smiles and cheers at the end of the year when they move on to 5th grade. These are the things I am looking forward too!!!

What do you need to improve?

First, I would like to accomplish the Daily 5 and Cafe. So far it is going very well! After coaching students through each component I would like to eventually allow them choice during the week, with set expectations.

Next, I would like to improve upon the technology products my students complete. My goal is for students to finish 4th grade with an electronic portfolio of products created throughout the year.

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

I can not live without my Interactive White board. My pen started acting up today and the kids told me I could just right on the board since it would be easier. What??? I had to get this fixed. So, within 5 minutes I had my pen working again.

I also could not live without my laptop which hooks up to my Interactive white board and provides all of my lessons and flipcharts. I am lost without it!

Head over to Blog Hoppin' to link up!

How did you integrate technology during the first week of school? Did you use an interactive flipchart, activotes, online survey, Brainpop, Discovery Education, Glogster, etc..? If you didn't use technology during the first week, how do you plan to integrate technology in your classroom in the future?

I integrated technology during the first week with my 4th grade class by having students complete two surveys. The surveys were created in Google Docs. Students completed a Reading Interest Survey and a Beginning of the Year Survey. You can view the surveys on my Class Wiki.

Community Building
Three days down and my students and I are learning a lot about one another. Our theme for this week is "My Identity" with a focus on building a community in the classroom. On the first day students took a survey using Google docs to tell me a little about themselves. Tuesday, they participated in a brown bag sharing activity, which was a hit. This is the first year I did this and think I will do it from now on. They were so excited to share things that represented them, and the students who were nervous just asked me to share for them. Today, we began with morning meeting something else I wanted to start last year, but didn't do and am sorry I didn't. Our classroom community is really coming along and they are very eager in the morning to sit on the rug and share. BTW they love the crate seats. Those are a hit too!!

On Monday the students completed a Reading interest Survey, completed a classroom Scavenger Hunt, and selected a book from the library. I then read aloud Thank You, Mr. Falker and focused on how the character changes in the story based on the setting.BTW you can also listen to the story by a celebrity on StorylineOnline We then made a text to self connection on the difficulties we may have as readers and reflected on what our goal would be. I introduced the Cafe board, had them write their name on a sticky note, and then students decided what their goal would be for the next few weeks by placing their sticky note on the Cafe board. On Tuesday, students wrote to a journal prompt and we shared in our family circle. Next, I began with a read aloud using Crickwing again focusing how the character changes in the story based upon the setting, and then made a text to self connection on being bullied or doing something nice for others.

Today, our main focus was a writing sample. Students were given a writing topic, which was read aloud and then began brainstorming and writing their rough draft. Students will be scored using a rubric on capitalization and punctuation only.

Students took a pre-assessment today, which will determine which leveled Spelling list they will receive on Monday. This is a great way to differentiate.

So tomorrow, the plans are to do a journal prompt. Compare and contrast the first two read alouds. Next, I will read Chrysantheum and model again how to make a text to self connection. Students will then research for homework the meaning and origin of their name. Then they will begin working in small groups for the remainder of the time reading, finishing their rough drafts, copying their leveled Spelling list, beginning Word Work, completing a journal, and using the computers to complete a final survey.

Whew! I am a busy teacher.
Today was another full day of Professional Development. However, today was filled with lots of ways to engage and motivate students through technology and fun hands on activities.

Session1- What's New in ELA?

This session focused on Glogs. They introduced the benefits of creating Glogs and how to get to the Glogs created on each Unit of our Treasure books on our school website. These ladies worked hard over the summer to link Discovery Education videos, crossword puzzles, powerpoints, links to Treasure activities and links to inquiry lessons that go with each story. These Glogs will foster teamwork, drive new interest levels around subjects, and bring a fun learning experience to the classroom. Click here to access the Glogs.

Session 2- Flipcharts

This session focused on flipcharts created by one of our Tech Integration Specialist for 4th grade. She created flipcharts that included engaging lessons for each Unit of study in our Treasures text. The flipcharts included pre and post assessments, a vocabulary activity, art integration, comprehension skills and a Spelling lesson. The flipcharts are mostly geared toward small group instruction, but can also be used for whole group. Sorry can't share these, but the one thing that I can share is a website called Flocabulary. Flocabulary produces educational hip hop music to teach vocabulary, reading, social studies, math and science. My students are going to love this site!

Session 3- From Moaning to Motivated with Movies

This session focused on using Technology to motivate students to write. Some helpful websites that were introduced were Moviefone, You Tube and iTunes. The first trailer she showed was "For the Birds", which was found in iTunes. This trailer would be a great way to get students to begin discussing feelings and emotions. This trailer is awesome!

The best movie shown and the boys in your class will love it was "Oktapodi". This movie could be used to get students talking about Characters, Problem and Solution. You could even introduce Cliffhanger.

She then introduced us to 4 Square Writing, which was new to me. I use Thinking Maps when teaching writing, but I loved the graphic organizer for 4 Square Writing because it was much more age appropriate.You can also use it to retell a story by changing the First to Setting, Next to Characters, Then to Problem and Last to Solution.

Session 4- "Centering" Around ELA Strategies

This session introduced Anticipation guides, which are great to use for making Predictions on a text or to Pre-assess what students know. Then was a Literary Report Card where students choose a character from the story and write three character traits to describe that particular character. They then find supporting details from the book to show why that character received that grade. The teachers or the students can decide on the grade.

Here are a few photos of the handouts that were given. Sorry! They are not the best pictures.
Anticipation Guide

Somebody/Wanted/But/So- ELA Strategy

Today was my first day back to work and it was filled with school related Professional Development or PD as we call it. We first began with an ice-breaking activity where we had to collect as many signatures from colleagues as possible in one minute. I managed to collect 28, but was not the winner. The winner won 1,000 extra copies for the year!

Next, up was a Guest Speaker who is a long time friend of our principal. Here is a video I was inspired to develop based on her motivational ABCs.

Back to Basics: ABCs for Motivating Teachers by Erica Shepherd Inspired by Cynthia Butler-Blucher on PhotoPeach

Why yes of course!

Tonight I participated in a Twitter chat with 4th grade teachers. BTW if you are not signed up on Twitter you are missing out!!! Tonight's topic was blogging and several people shared wonderful ideas on how to get parents to buy in, teaching parents to comment,and how students benefit from blogging. Cool Cat Teacher has an excellent blog post stating 12 reasons to blog with your students. My favorite of the 12 is #2 Blogging Encourages Voice. My students have a hard time incorporating voice into their writing. Hopefully, through weekly blogging students will learn more about themselves and adding voice to their writing will come naturally.

When you first introduce blogging to students you must first collaborate with them on guidelines to follow. Here are a few guidelines another 4th grade class developed. After students begin practicing with blogging, then commenting on blogs would be the next thing to discuss.

How do we comment?

Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog has a wonderful post on "How to Compose a Quality Comment". She even showcases students stating how to write a quality comment. I love this!

Finally, if you want parental support you must get them to buy in. A colleague of mine Paula Naugle hosted a blogging commenting party last year for her parents. She had the students present to their parents why blogging is important, its purpose and then to teach their parents how to make a quality comment. Check out her flyer here she sends home! Here is Blog Intro Letter to Parents.

In addition to the Blog Commenting Party for parents, I also plan to tack a roster of students next to the computers and every time their parents comment they will receive a star next to their name. The student with the most stars at the end of the month will receive a reward.

My favorite idea shared tonight was having a student take a few photos around the school and post them for students to blog about. I plan on having a Tech Star of the week in my class so this would be a perfect job with a big responsibility.

My kidblogs are set up and I can't wait to get started with my new students!

Create Teach Share posted a word of the week freebie she was sharing. She also posted a question of what do upper grades do for Word Work. So, I thought what a great way to integrate technology by making a video using a word of choice from the week's words, when students are at Word Work during Daily 5. My students learn a new word Monday- Thursday where we discuss and look at the word in context. These words are posted on our Word Wall and students will have the opportunity to practice with them during Word Work. They will have two choices during Word Work such as: Spelling City or to create a video using Animoto.

Here is a video I created using Animoto.

Click here to get a checklist I created for students to use when making their video.
I finally think my plans for the first week of school are coming together! I have decided to go with a theme, which I have never done before. My theme will carry throughout the first two months of school, but I would love to try to extend it throughout the year. So, we will see how it goes!

My theme is "My Identity". Lessons and activities will center around students finding more about themselves such as their names, culture,family and their passions.

I must give thanks to the following educators for inspiring me and leading me to discover these wonderful lessons and activities to implement in my classroom. Ms. Naugle has inspired me to implement Identity Day with my students. Identity day will allow students to showcase their strengths, interests or passions. Click here to find out more! Also, thank you to Ms. Jasztal a former Scholastic teacher for finding my blog. She has led me to discover a new Scholastic teacher Ms. Zimmerman, who has created a fabulous lesson incorporating reading, writing and technology in finding each student's uniqueness.

So here it is an outline of my Lessons and Activities for the First Week of School!

Week of August 15-19
1. Word Search of Class Names
2. Welcome with Introduction after announcements
3. Introduce Self with Flipchart and Quickly Scan Room and Intro Class Jobs
4. Take Reading Interest Survey using iPads and netbooks / Book Selection from Library/ Silent Reading
5. Call to rug, brainstorm why people read( Circle Map) and then do a Read Aloud Chrysantheum/Discuss Theme “My Identity”
6. Allow students time to browse baby name books and make an anchor chart noting the findings Click here to see lesson!
7. Work in groups to brainstorm Classroom Rules/Expectations
8. Introduce Wordle Activity and allow students to begin creating and saving
9. Writing Activity Journal Tell me about yourself, how you spent your summer, and what are your goals for this 4th grade year. (Brainstorm- Circle Map)
10. Tech Student to take digital head shots of students

1. Activity?
2. Watch video of PBIS Rules and Expectations and designate parts
3. Call to rug and discuss Reading Workshop/ Read Aloud the second chapter of Louis Lowry’s Goonie Bird Greene stop only a few times to make connections/Establish Guidelines for RW (Anchor Chart)/Model how you researched your name and make an example like the one here. Then give students a copy of the organizer and allow them to research their name using the computers or books.
4. Introduce Kidblogs and how to post wordle and begin blogging. (Pairs)
5. Writing- Allow students to complete their journal from the previous day.
6. Introduce Wall Wisher and have students post goals

1. Activity?
2. Take tour of school and practice reading and modeling rules using Flipcamera
3. Read Aloud and discuss 5 finger rule/Ask how to find a good book?/Create an Anchor Chart on how to pick a just right book/Introduce the book log and have them glue into their notebooks and record their books.
4. Continue with blog posts/Discuss how to make comments (Anchor charts)
5. Writing- New Journal Prompt and Share (Allow to use computers and Paint program to Draw a picture to go along with journal) Speech to Text/App (Dragon Dictation)

1. Activity?
2. Take tour of school and practice reading and modeling rules using Flipcamera
3. Read parts of the The Important book by Margaret Wise Brown/Discuss how we can use this book to help us with our writings about our names. Model for students how to write their paper. Then allow for IR time 15 min and inform students you will begin conferring with them on their chosen books. They also need to update Reading Log
4. Continue with blog posts and review how to make comments (Anchor chart) Use one students blog post as an example. Give all students a sentence strip and have them write a comment to post.
5. Introduce Daily Edit and Model have students come to IWB to make corrections/Proofreading Practice
6. Writing- Journal Prompt and Share (Allow to use computers and Paint to Draw a picture to go along with journal) Speech to Text/App (Dragon Dictation)

1. Activity?
2. Play completed PBIS movie for students
3. Call to Rug and Ask what is reading? Explaing “Reading is Thinking”/ Intro. Anchor Chart/Read Aloud and Complete anchor chart and then allow for IR time for 15 min. give students 2 sticky notes to record their thinking conferr w/students/ Call back to rug and allow to share with a buddy if they are ready
4. Daily Edit today students will copy in their notebooks. Then I will Model Proofreading Practice
5. Allow students to complete their writing about their name
6. Next, students will create name collages to decorate their writing. The collage process will allow me to informally assess my students’ basic computer skills. I will teach the following sequence of skills:
Open a new word processing document.
Type your name and capitalize the first letter.
Copy and paste the name at least twenty times.
Change the fonts, colors, and sizes of the names (the students loved this part!).
Print the document.

As you can see above I am still looking for a few 15 minute morning activities to do when the students first come in the room. Any Ideas?
Over to my classroom I went today with my 3 boys. I was actually able to get a lot done even with my silly boys running around my room screaming the entire time. They are the best! Anyway, I decided to rearrange my desks into a U shape. It definitely gives me a lot of room in the center of my classroom for my mini-lessons. I am hearing so many complaints in the last few days about kids not liking to sit on the rug from other teachers. So, I decided I will give them choices. I will pull 6 sticks for students to sit on the seat crates my wonderful husband made for me. I will post a picture of those tomorrow. I will allow those who want to sit on the carpet to come forward, and those that would rather stay in their desk may, but need to move to the inside U. Does anyone else have problems with kids coming to the rug?
As you will see in my pictures I created a birthday board, where I will post pictures taken with my new digital camera of the students by their birthday months. This is an idea taken from Pinterest. I am in the process of setting up my Reader's Choice board but ran out of sticky tape for the wall. My beautiful rug was delivered to my room today so I laid that out. I changed up my Daily 5 board and converted it to a Cafe board. I haven't even read the Cafe book yet, but am hoping it gets delivered today to my door. Although, I have been reading a lot about Cafe/Daily on blogs and think I am ready to attack it. Hmmm! So Check out the pictures below of my room and leave your thoughts. Also, if you notice the board next to my Word Wall is bare. I don't have an ideas for this one. Help! Stay tuned for the finished product!

Shepherd's Shining Classroom on PhotoPeach

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