My first linky party this summer! And summer is almost over!!

 My baby, or my youngest of my 4 boys, turned 16 months yesterday! Time is flying by. 

 I found out on Tuesday of this week that I will be teaching 5th grade this year. Time to start planning. I report back to work on Wednesday, August 5th.  

 I worked in my new classroom today.

  Looking forward to using play money with my classroom economy this year! 

I'm looking forward to the Teacher Appreciation Day at Office Depot tomorrow. They always have great prizes! 

     After 10 years of teaching 4th grade, I found out on Monday that I will begin this school year as the 5th grade ELA teacher. I have lots of mixed emotions about the change. I am going to surely miss working closely with my 4th grade team, although we will still have the same lunch and planning. I am nervous about changing curriculums. I spent a lot of time the last two years studying the new 4th grade CCSS and now I will have to learn a new one. Ahhh! I am excited about looping and having most of the same kids I taught last year. I feel like I will be able to jump right in and get things going where we left off. Plus most of them know my expectations and routine and will be able to assist the new students.

I will now teach 5th grade Reading & Writing to 3 different classes, which means my first day of school plans have changed slightly from my last post that you can read here. My plans will obviously be much shorter.

I am looking forward to the change and especially the looks on my former students' faces when they see I will be their reading teacher again!

Pictures to come soon of my new classroom! 

Finally, after days of scouring blogs, articles, twitter chats and teacher Facebook pages I have my first day of school lesson plan completed. That was a lot of work for the first day considering I still have the rest of the week to plan for, lol! I learned a lot though, and found many great resources to use this coming year.

 I don't have my schedule yet, which I won't get until next Wednesday so here's a bulleted list of activities I have planned for the first day which is a Monday for students, August 10th.

  • 4th Grade Questionnaire - A questionnaire  and a pencil will be on student's desks as they enter for them to complete as I greet parents and welcome other students into the classroom for the first day. Students will also have a goodie bag from me on their desk which will contain a simple snack, bottle of water, pencil, and a pencil pouch. Pictures to come soon of their goodie bags. (The questionnaire was borrowed from Teaching in Room 6.) 

  • WBT (Whole Brain Teaching) - After taking attendance, which needs to be done before the start of the day, I will then introduce myself to the class, teach them my "call back" or the "Class-Yes", introduce the Scoreboard, review the 5 WBT rules and finally learn students names playing the name game. You can find out more on exactly how to implement this in your room here. Did you know Chris Bifle the founder of WBT is on Periscope? You can watch him live giving great tips on how to get WBT started in your classroom. Mrs. Shipley is also great on Periscope for teaching WBT. 

  • Brain Break Time with Go Noodle- I'm really looking forward to using Go Noodle in my classroom this year! I've already set my class up and can't wait to get students up and moving to wake up those minds and add a little dancing, singing and laughter to my oh so serious 4th grade class. 

  • Supplies- Next we will begin picking up supplies and color coding our notebooks. Students are asked to bring in 5 black and white composition notebooks. Each notebook is color coded on the edge for students to easily access when digging in their desk or school bag for the required notebook. Some students will be done color coding and picking up supplies faster than others, so early finishers will have a Class Name Word-search on their desk to complete. 

  • Introduce Class Economy- I started using a class economy this past year in January and wish I would've started sooner, like 13 years sooner.  It is awesome and the students buy in quickly. I found a lot of my ideas here again at Teaching in Room 6's blog. She gives step by step directions on how to get started. My one thing to work on this year is to assign bankers at each table at the end of the week to total students budgets. I'll post pictures soon of my rewards and my Class Economy bulletin board later this week when I get into my classroom. 

  • The Important Book- Next I will read the Important book, a great book recommendation by Teaching in Room 6. Students will then create a circle map of their best qualities they possess.  This will be a great opening review of character traits which will precede a lesson to come in the following weeks on analyzing a character's thoughts and actions. My students will most likely need guidance on choosing traits for themselves, so here's a character trait chart you can grab here. I will have students use this and then glue into their reading notebooks.

  • Writing Activity- We will then choose three traits from our circle maps and write a letter about our self. This will be a guided writing lesson in which students will follow along copying and filling in their blanks with their qualities and reasons as I write my own letter about myself. This will also be there first introduction to Kidblog.  I will type my letter via Kidblog as they follow along.  If time allows, students will begin typing their letters via Kidblog. 

  • Finally, and another wonderful idea borrowed from Teaching in Room 6, I will end the day with a Read Aloud from Louis Sachar There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom. I will read as much as I can until busses begin being called. 

I really want to also do the All Hands in Project with students from Teaching in Room 6, but I am not sure where to fit it in. Maybe, I will hold off on the writing activity for Tuesday and replace it with that. 

I definitely think I have over planned for the first day. 

     Chapter 6 of Word Nerds is "Celebrate to Validate". As I left off on my last post on how I would bump  up my vocabulary instruction in my classroom here, I didn't mention what my plan was going to be on Day 5.

Little did I know that Chapter 6 was all about the last day. It is a day to "Celebrate to Validate". Chapter 6 gives you a plethora of ways to host a vocabulary party in your classroom to review those words studied for the week and recognize all of the students hard work.

My favorite party mentioned is "Celebrating Velcro Words." Velcro Words are words that will stick to your brain. According to the text, "The teacher calls on a student to share their favorite word and explain why they think it's a Velcro word. The teacher may then ask, When can you use the word _______? The student will then give their answer and the teacher will scan the room looking for approval or use the thumbs up/down signal. Finally the teacher will say, "(Student name) , we appreciate the word ______ and celebrate its use. Hear, hear!" The students will raise their cups and intone say, "Hear, hear! Then they each take a sip of juice. "(Chapter 6).

A game not mentioned in Chapter 6, but a game that has been a favorite of my class is Kahoot.  Kahoot would make for a fantastic game to play on a Friday before their test. Kahoot gets students engaged, using technology, and gets them collaborating and discussing those words one last time for the week. I would create the game as a cloze structure with students choosing the correct word to fill in sentences.

I would love to hear how you review before the test whether it's vocabulary or another subject?
     The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is August 29th. It is quickly approaching and soon the news, radio, TV and other media will be "flooded" (pun on words here) with memories of that day.

     Ten years ago, my husband and I who were recently married were living in Chalmette, Louisiana at the time. When we heard the news on that Sunday morning of the storm soon approaching, we decided to evacuate. So, we quickly packed our things and headed to Dallas, Texas to my brother-in-law's residence. We left pretty early on, so luckily traffic congestion wasn't a problem for us. We were glued to the television for the next few days anticipating the storm and the damage it would bring. On August 29th, 2005 the storm made landfall. Not until a day or so later we heard on the news that the levees had broken and our first home in Chalmette was filled with 10ft of water. We also lived near an oil refinery which leaked; we also ended up with oil in our home. However, we were fortunate in that our master bedroom was upstairs. All of our belongings were there and were safe. Many others were not as fortunate as us, like my in-laws and my other brother-in-law and his family. They had one story homes in Chalmette that were completely inundated with flood water and oil. They lost everything! This is definitely a time remembered in this area due to the devastation it brought, but also to how the rebuilding of the city and people's lives came to be.

     In lieu of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, my students and I will begin the year with reading the Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Here's a synopsis taken from Amazon of the book.

Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans' Ninth Ward. She doesn't have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya's visions show a powerful hurricane--Katrina--fast approaching, it's up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.

Ninth Ward is a deeply emotional story about transformation and a celebration of resilience, friendship, and family--as only love can define it.

     I began reading this book with my 4th graders at the end of this past school year and the students loved it. So, I thought with the Anniversary of the Hurricane that this would be a great book to begin the year with. 

I also just recently created a Hurricane Katrina: Oral History Project posed on TPT. This project contains 13 interview questions and 3 presentation choices.  I plan to use this project with my students this coming year. This project will be a great way for students to get insight into the lives of their family members or friends during this time. Most of my students for this coming school year weren't born yet or they may have been born the same year. I am sure it was even more difficult for the mothers who were pregnant at the time and were soon ready to deliver to evacuate during this time. 

Hope you'll check it out! 
Here are my Top 5 Picks for the New School Year:

1.      First up is the Pipe Cleaner Challenge. Divide your students up into teams and give them the following supplies seen in the picture, a few sheets of tin foil and pipe cleaners and let them construct. This is a great activity to give you time to put away school supplies on the first day, conference with each student, check their reading fluency, and even see who your leaders are in each group. Click here or on the picture to read more about this activity. 

2. Kidblog is definitely one of my students go to sites in my 4th grade classroom. I've been using Kidblog with my 4th grade classroom for over 5 years now. Each year I learn new things and find new ways to get students writing quality posts. Some benefits of Kidblog are students get to create a year-long writing portfolio, work on their typing skills, read and comment on student posts and write for an authentic audience. What I love even more is that you can tweet your URL using the has tag #comments4kids to get other students around the country to make comments on your students posts, even some teachers have taken the time to read and comment on posts. This is a great way to get students to have pride in their work and show their best when they know others will be reading their posts than just their teacher. So click here or the picture below to see a great starting activity for Kidblog. 

3.  Love this Kiss Your Brain Jar, by Second Grade Stuff. Each morning of the week my students complete either a Daily Oral Language Review Or a Daily Oral Reading Review, I alternate weeks. During the review, I always extend the answer by asking students to give me the definition or another example. If they can show a deeper understanding, I reward them with a Smartie. I still plan to do this, but I love the cute and simple jar to store them in instead of the Smartie bag next to my computer. Click on the picture below to read more on how Second Grade Stuff uses the jar in her classroom. 

4.  Prose Constructed Response Questions are what we are working on now with CCSS. It is always important to not only teach the Tier II and Tier III words that students may encounter within the question, but also teach and model how to answer all parts. The last few years I have used a strategy passed on by a co-worker, it is the SSP strategy or STEAL SENTENCE PROVE. It has worked great with my students, but I love this new acronym and I'm ready for a change. Click here or the picture below to get your free copy to hang on your classroom wall. 

5.  Go Noodle! I just happened upon this site within the last couple of few week and my students are going to love it. The site is filled with fun and engaging Brain Breaks! Click here or the picture below to read more about it and Ms. Fultz utilizes it in her classroom. 

I'd love your comments! 

Yep, that's me!

This summer my husband and I took a 10 day vacation to London and Paris. While in London we ventured to Greenwich where I stood on the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is our Earth's main line of longitude at 0 degrees and separates our earth into the eastern and western hemispheres. I was so excited to do this because I teach lines of longitude and latitude in Social Studies at the beginning of the year during the first nine weeks.

I can't wait to share this with my incoming 4th graders! I'm definitely going to have to blow this picture up and put it where the prime meridian would be in our classroom, maybe right on the overhead projector hanging from the ceiling.
     Reflecting back at this past school year, vocabulary instruction is definitely a skill I would  like to bump up in my classroom. Our admin asked us at the beginning of last school year to focus on teaching Tier II words, such as paraphrase, developdescribe, explain, compare, and contrast. So, each week and sometimes for more than one I focused on one of these words, sometimes two. This helped my students gain a lot of confidence with test taking! They were no longer scared of short answer questions because now they knew what the question was really asking them to do. On the other hand, I think I need to put more emphasis on Tier III words as well to build my students' vocabularies. In Social Studies we constantly discuss content/Tier III words and I use them regularly in my speech for the week and revert back to them in future lessons, and most students were successful on end of the week tests, but at the end of the year I still felt I could've done more even in Reading, but what?

So blog hopping this past week, I happened upon a few teachers who are doing a book study using Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary by Brenda J. Overturf, Leslie J. Montgomery, and Margot Holmes Smith. After reading some of their posts on their reflections of each chapter, I was hooked. This is exactly what my students need! So, obviously I purchased the book right away for my Kindle. It is definitely a book you can't put down. There are so many great ideas and actual classroom scenarios given that you get a real insight into how it may work in your classroom. I've already searched for lanyards for my students on Oriental Trading, but I'll get to that in a bit. The teachers doing the book study are already on Chapter 5, so I had lots of catching up to do and I am now caught up.

Here's what I have learned from Chapter 3 of Word Nerds and decided to implement into the beginning of my Reading instruction.

  • On Day, 1 I will introduce 3-5 words, I really haven't decided yet if I will break it up. These words will consist of one Tier II word and the rest Tier III words. I will introduce the word, students will repeat, I will say again breaking the word into syllables, the students will repeat. I will use my popsicle sticks to have a students predict the definition. We will discuss the word and break it into parts they may know (prefixes/suffixes) if applicable. I will definitely scaffold if needed if they get stuck with determining the definition. I want to make them feel as successful as possible. Then I will present sentences on the board where I will model with students trying out each word in each sentence to find the correct fit. (We may even sing the P-O-E! Oh!Oh! chant) and then students will copy the word, definition, and come up with a 7-up sentence in their journal using the Frayer Model.

  • On Day 2, we will discuss or use thesauruses to look up synonyms and antonyms for the words. Students will copy synonyms and antonyms into their Frayer Model in their notebooks and I will allow my student Teacher assistant for the week to fill in the class anchor chart. I love the idea of students filling in the Anchor Chart and not the teacher. Finally we will play a game with our words. My favorite games from Chapter 5 are Word Charades and Counting Dudes, Bragging Dudes. 

  • On Day 3, we will continue reviewing words in context and if time permits play another game.

  • Finally, on Day 4 we will review the words again with a cloze sentence structure similar but different than day one. Thinking of using this one as a participation grade.  

Keep in mind I have only read up to chapter 5, so I may come back and rework this plan before the beginning of the school year. So excited to keep reading and learning from Word Nerds! Stay tuned!

Check out the following teacher bloggers' links to read their thoughts on Word Nerds:

The Elementary Journey
I'd love your comments!
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