Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm Still Here and October's Currently-a little late

Spooky October greetings to my friends in blogland!
I have missed you all. Never fear, though I haven't written I have been reading as much as I can to keep up with all of the great new friends I made this summer.  I have seen some awesome ideas- some I've even tried out in my classroom already and some I have in the "To Do at a Later Date" file.

I cannot believe I have not be able to sit down long enough to to write!  This fall is really kicking my backside and I'm not even sure why.  I have a great group of kids, no new curriculum to trip through and things are moving along at a fairly normal clip on the homefront.  I am just hoping that things settle in soon before the real craziness of the the holiday season kicks in too!

For this, my first blog back I am joining in with Farely over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently link up.  I sooooo love this linky! I really enjoy reading what everyone is up to- I've funny how many things we have in common all across the country :)

Listening... the loveliness of siblings getting along for once.  No fighting just playing- music to my ears. Hopefully it lasts 'til quiet time!

Loving... my class.  Doesn't that just say it all?  I have a super bunch of fourth graders who are not afraid to try new things and are really coming together as a team.

Thinking..... I really do need to start correcting papers since they won't correct themselves.  Midterms were sent out last week and it felt like a marathon of making sure I had everything current.  How can it only be Tuesday and my bag is full yet again?!?!

Wanting... a personal assistant/secretary/maid/cook. Need I say more. LOL

Needing... a day to get reorganized.  Seems like I'm running around like a headless chicken and some things are not getting back where they belong.  Those first units I had laid out are almost done and it's time to get out the next round.

Treat...my treat is a book recommendation.  If you haven't picked up Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein  you are really missing out!  I read about this one over at Eberopolis and was intrigued, so of course had to order it from Amazon that day.  I started it Saturday with the intent to read an hour then finish my housework....didn't happen had to read it all in one sitting!  

Well that's it for tonight.  Those papers are calling my name.  I solemnly vow to get at least one blog post up a week from now on. (I'm making a date with my computer for just that purpose and putting it on my calendar LOL)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Currently and setting August Goals

Wow.  I can't believe it is suddenly August.  Part of me says yeah it is about time to head back to school while the other part is hollering "Are you crazy? You have so many things to do yet!"  Guess the two parts are just going to have to compromise. LOL
Well, since it is August that means it's time to link up with Farely at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for the monthly Currently party and Jesse at I {Heart} Recess for the new months goals.  I love these two link ups.  The Currently posts are great to see what everyone is up to-it's funny how many things we bloggers all have in common.  I really liked linking up with Jesse last month for the Goals..it kept me honest and gave me more focus to get those goals accomplished since I'd actually written something down and shared it with the world (What was I thinking?!?) No really it was all good.

Without further ado, here they are:
 I think these are pretty self explanatory, so I'm going to leave it at that.  My book is really calling my name and it is not a professional book hehehe.  My dining room table has been my "office" this summer so everything I've been working on for school is ALL over it.  It's a good thing we have a small table in the kitchen or there wouldn't have been places to sit down and eat.

Personal:  The kids' schedules keep me running and I tend to get a bit obsessive about school, so I don't often take time just for me.  I want to be better about that this year and strike a better balance.  How do you all do it balance work, family and personal time?

Organization:  I love how my room looks at the start of the year all fresh and tidy, everything in its place.  Unfortunately when I'm in the thick of planning and teaching I don't always put things back where they belong in a timely manner, so this year I am making a standing appointment each week to file and put things away that have accumulated that week.

Professional:  I am team-teaching with our grade level resource teacher this year.  I am really hoping we can plan things out better this year to mesh our teaching and lessons better than we did last year.

Students:  I love making those personal connections with students.  They really respond and give you all they have plus some when you know and understand them as more than the little person in the classroom.

Motto: "Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he is born in another time." I've really been doing a lot of thinking about how kids learn and respond to education today.  It is so different from when I was a fourth grader. I honestly think how kids learn has changed in the past 20 years I've been teaching.  It isn't enough to teach the way we were taught as educators we need to rise to the challenge and find ways to engage our students' minds and foster their learning in a ways that works for them.

Ok, that's it for me.  Now it's your turn.  Be sure to head over to check out the other goals and currentlys going on.  Here's to enjoying the last days of summer!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monday Made Its- A Little Late

Sorry I've been MIA this past week.  It's been hectic but productive.  I have a few new crafty, cute projects I have been hard at work on plus a major classroom overall. (The hottest week of July, guess who decided she should paint all the bookcases in her classroom...a room without windows or air conditioning I might add) Yep that was me.  I will say the shelving looks marvelous-no pictures today but I promise to add some as I get things put back together.

Ok for my Monday Made It (yes, I know it's Tuesday but I was crazy swamped yesterday and didn't really feel like getting on the computer at 11:30 before I went to bed) I have a couple projects I have finished up.

MMI #1: READ Letters.

I've seen these on several blogs and different Pinterest pins and just had to make a set for my room. I just happened to be in Hobby Lobby for their 50% off sale on scrapbook papers and cardboard letters so the time was right.  Today I attached the letters to ribbon and am going to hang them on the wall in my room library.  I'll be putting up pictures of my new library once I have it all put back together so you can see how it came together.

MMI #2: Teacher Binder

This year I decided to try something a little different. I typically keep my schedules, calendar, notes and other important teacher information in a large binder. Its bulky and I don't like to haul it plus my laptop to meetings. So I've been working on my teacher binder off and on for the last few weeks.    I recently found out I can have a spiral bound notebook made for $3.50.  I can customize it to what I need (think I need) and organized how I want it. I do my lesson plans on the computer so I don't need a section for lesson plans.  (I am going to use planbook.com this year-but that's for another post.)  I have a spot of a week at a glance-I laminated it so I can use it over again rather than have 36 different pages, a calendar (which I have already plugged the important school dates), a note section for meetings, and my roster. I am also putting in a section for my substitute information with procedures but that section is still in the process as I team teach I want to hold off to be able to talk with my teaching partner before I finalize it all.  I am super pleased with the sections I have done and can't wait to get it all finished up and bound.

MMI #3: ELA I Can Statements

My third MMI for this week is my set of I Can statements for English Language Arts.  I am super tickled with how these turned out.  For each standard I used a different colored edge to help make them easy to organize. Next I need to get them laminated and they will be ready for my new bulletin board.

Well, that's it for right now.  I have a few other projects I want to wrap up for next time.  Two more Mondays before we officially start back.

                                                    Until next time...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

School Outfitters Give Away

Wow! What would you do if someone handed you $100 to spend in your classroom?  Well, Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade has that dilemma.  School Outfitters is having a back to school deal and you too could be part of it.  To find out more and to read Farely's post, visit her blog here.

As you are thinking Back to School, what are some things you have on your "wish list" of classroom goodies?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tunes Tuesdsay Link Up

Music and grammar -what an awesome combination.  I love to use music in my lessons. Unfortunately I can't make it work as often as I'd like, so I am super excited to link up with Nick over at Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason for his Tunes Tuesday, a fun way to use music to teach grammar skills.  I've been looking through the other link ups and I know my students are going to love this idea!

Hall of Fame lyrics
I chose the song "Hall of Fame" by The Script to go over nouns.  I also like this song because of the positive message that you can be anything if you try.  (Always trying to do double duty with lessons where ever possible, here I have grammar and self-esteem/Character Counts).

The official video for this song is very powerful depicting both a young man and young woman struggling to reach their dreams as a boxer and a ballerina. Here is the link to the video via Safeshare.  A HUGE shout out to Ideas for Jivey who shared this cool tool in her link up for Tunes Tuesday.  Hope you enjoy the link up and be sure to check out the other great links that are part of this linky.

                                                                       Until next time....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It -7/15

My goodness...is it really the middle of July already? Yikes that means I in exactly one month I have to report in for meetings!  I either need to get busy and get more school things wrapped up, or I need to truly put away for a bit and be lazy for a week or two!

Well, it is Monday, so that means it's time to link up with Tara over at Fourth Grade Frolics for another Monday Made It!  I so love this linky.  I am constantly amazed at the wonderful, crafty things everyone is making!  It has honestly been an inspiration each week to get things accomplished.  Plus I keep finding new blogs to follow which equals new friends and more great ideas!

MMI #1- Home Communication Center

So for my MMIs this week I have one for home that I have been putzing with for a while now and think I may have it to a finishing point.  This is my home communication center.  I have a narrow hallway that everyone must pass through to get to the kitchen and the upstairs (where their bedrooms are) so I decided to use the wall space as my home communication center.  
I have 2 white boards- the large board is for messages and notes to let others (AKA -Mom) know where you are or when you expect to be back along with the post for emergency numbers and a small white board for the weekly shopping list.  Above the shopping list I have my menu board.  In the middle of it all is a cork board with the calendar and a slots for the kids' schedules and other goodies. (My older kids pointed out that they don't have slots but I assured them that although they don't have bulletin board space they are still loved.  I should clarify, my older children are 21, 20 and 19 and don't live at home any more...I'm not really that mean of a mother LOL)  I am pretty please with how it all looks now.  Hopefully we can keep it up and the boys will remember to use it.

MMI #2 A Behavior Clip chart.

My next project was a behavior clip chart.  I have never used on in my room before, but know I have a group coming up that might need the visual reminder on how we need to work in the classroom.  I decided I wanted my chart to be magnetic, so I used a flat cookie sheet, then I made little number tiles to go with it. (I'm debating on making them a little smaller and using these for posting late/missing work on my whiteboard).  I am really pleased with how this came out. I am working on making data binder sheets and created one to go with the chart that the kids will fill in for each day.

MMI #3: Citing Sources

My final MMI for this week is a document I created to share with my teammates/students for citing sources.  As part of the Common Core, one of the things that students must be able to do is cite the resources they use in research.  For the past couple of years I have been pretty loose about how the students did this (basically just the title and the author) and none of our time did it the same way, so here enters my new resource.  I still tried to keep it basic but have more information included along with a prescribed format for both print materials and online materials.

Well, that's it for me for this week's MMI.  Off to see what some of my favorite bloggers were crafting for this week.

                                                            Until next time...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fiction Friday-Week 5

Happy Friday everyone!  I am going to apologize in advance, this is a longer Friday Fiction post than usual.  (I am trying to make up for not posting last week) Plus I've been working hard at my goal to get 12 more Children's Choice books read before I have to go back to work.  So here goes with my link up for...
The Teaching Theif

Like I mentioned, I am trying to get as many of this year's Iowa Children' Choice books read before I head back to school.  Here are the latest titles I've read.

Book #1: 
Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray
Reading Level: 3-6
Iowa Children's Choice
308 pages

Graveyards can be scary, sinister places, but to 12 year-old Linc Crenshaw they are practically home.  For much of his life, Linc has traveled with his mother Lottie, a professor of history and burial customs, around the country studying various cemeteries.  Linc is trying to be a "normal" kid.  This year, his absent-minded mother Lottie is allowing him to go to public school and he has made a promise to himself that things are going to be different.  Unfortunately, the first field trip of the year is to a local cemetery and his mother is the tour guide!  
As part of the field trip the students must choose a grave to research.  Linc chooses a grave that everyone believes is cursed.  As he gets further into the project everything changes as old secrets are unraveled.

This is a fast paced story with several twists in its telling.  Linc has to learn to deal with his family dynamics and make new friendships.  An interesting fact is that this story actually takes place in Iowa. The Black Angel that Linc chooses to research is one of Iowa's top haunted places and is located in Iowa City.  After reading this story I am anxious to take a visit the next time I go to visit my daughter at the University of Iowa.  I think this will be a fun story for my students to connect with.

Book #2:
Wild Girl by Patrica Reilly Giff
Reading Level 3-6
Iowa Children's Choice
145 pages

Lidie's dreams are about to come true.  She is finally going to America to be reunited with her father and brother Rapheal.  As she leaves Brazil she stops at the lemon orchard to pick a lemon for Pai (her father).  Before he left her 7 years ago they picked a lemon together and he told her when she came to America she was to bring one with her to show they were home together.  However, when Lidie reaches New York nothing is as she imagined it.  Pai and Raphel still see her as a baby, Pai doesn't seem to remember the significance of the lemon and English is harder than she thought.  She longs to ride the Thoroughbreds at the stable her father is the trainer for, but instead they purchase an old swayback mare to "teach" her to ride.  When her father brings a young filly named Wild Girl home to the stables, Lidie knows she must do something to show her family who she really is and make their home a true home.

I really enjoyed this the story as it was told both from Lidie and Wild Girl's perspectives.  Both the young filly and Lidie possess wild headstrong personalities. They help each other deal with the major changes in their lives.

Book # 3:
The Trouble with Chickens: A JJ Tully Mystery By Doreen Cronin
Reading Level: 3-5
Iowa Children's Choice
119 pages

JJ is a retired search and rescue dog trying to enjoy a little relaxation in the country. Then enters Millicent (Moosh for short) a mother chicken and her two chicks whom JJ renames Sugar and Dirt.  This little chicken family has a problem- two of the baby chicks are missing.  After eying the "popcorn with legs" (that's how JJ describes the little chicks) he finally agrees to help them find their missing family members.  When a ransom note appears JJ notices the "big" words which tell him its an inside job, meaning someone from inside the house must be responsible because they are the only ones who would have access to the books and the big vocabulary.  Together JJ and the chickens come up against Vince the Funnel, an ornery inside dog with a bone to pick with JJ.

I laughed out loud while reading this book.  The conversations between the animals are fun and entertaining. (In my head I could hear the old Sam Spade voice from the movies every time JJ talked).  The events behind the missing chicks turns out to more more than a simple kidnapping and JJ learns a little something about family.

Book #4:
My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjan
Reading Level 3-6
Iowa Children's Choice
211 pages

It's summer and Derek is looking forward to many fun-filled adventures. At least he is until his teacher tells the class she will be their teacher again next year and gives them a required reading list and an assignment to read 3 of the books from the list before the first day of the next school year.  Derek is not a fan of reading.  It's hard for him and he would much rather read Calvin and Hobbs or Garfield than a book any day.  One thing he has to do to help him with his reading is to keep track of the words in his reading that he doesn't know.  Instead of writing out the definitions, he draws what the words mean. (You see his words/drawings throughout the margins of the book). After one too many misadventures, Derek's parents sign him up for Learning Camp.  Summer is ruined!  At least that's what he thinks at first.  While at camp, his tutor notices his drawings and helps him learn to visualize the story as he reads.  He discovers a family secret that involves him and the truth about the whole thing impacts the family.  While reading is still not his favorite thing, Derek learns many new things over the course of the summer and one of them is that even when we do things that are hard or we fail at them it is important to keep trying.

If you liked The Diary of the Wimpy Kid, I think you will enjoy this story.  Derek's mischievous nature makes me think a little of Dennis the Menace or even Derek's  own favorite character Calvin. Although the story is simply told, the new vocabulary sprinkled throughout and illustrated in the margins make this a fun read.  It's overall message about perseverance and following your passions is a great lesson for kids.  Those students who find reading more of a challenge or a chore will enjoy Derek's tale.

Well, those are my books to share for this week.  I can't wait to see what everyone else has been reading.
                                                                Until next time...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Made It...through the craziness :-)

It's Monday... the beginning of a new week and time to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.
This last week was crazy hectic here, hence the title for this post.  Just to give you an idea how nutty my week was, I'll give you a quick recap.  Monday/Tuesday- helped my sister get ready to open her new wine bar, The Sanity Room that opened Tuesday afternoon.  We did take time to sneak in matching tattoos. Didn't they turn out awesome?

Tuesday started with an early morning call from my oldest son letting my know my granddaughter was ready to enter the world...of course had to take time to go down to visit them in the hospital.
Wednesday was my youngest daughter's birthday- I can't believe she is 11 already!
Thursday of course was the Fourth of July and my parents' 43 anniversary-big day with family. Friday we had company from out of town visiting.  The weekend was for recouping and doing all those chores I neglected during the week but needed to be done.

Needless to say I did not have a lot of down time to work on my To do list of projects, but I did manage to finish up my Math Common Core Checklist for my students' data binders.  (I've recently decided to try student data binders, so that's another project I am working on.  If anyone has some great words of wisdom for how you use your data notebooks I welcome any thoughts you'd like to share.)  I have all the standards written out in kid friendly terms (They match the I Can statements I made a few weeks ago to post-I thought it would make it easier for my students to know exactly which ones they can mark in their notebook).  I have put this document in my TPT if anyone is interested.

The second thing I managed to finish up are my new schedule cards.  I decided I wanted something with a little more style to put in my pocket chart this year.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.  Now if only I had my schedule nailed down so I could put times on them.

Here's to a calmer more productive week.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Currently - July

How can that be! It's July already?  Well, although it isn't yet the fourth of July, my month has come in with a bang!  Here is my link up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to explain a little.

Listening- oh the blessed quiet! I've head extra girls in the house the past three days and I've been helping my sister set up her new business with all the sounds of power tools and craziness!

Loving- my new tattoo.  Yesterday my little sister and I went and got matching celtic sister tattoos. They turned out awesome!

Thinking-it's been a whirlwind couple of days and while I am getting things done, my to-do list is growing instead of shrinking!

Wanting- to go visit my brand new granddaughter who was born TODAY!

Needing a nap- worked late to help my sister last night and then got a text at 4:13 this morning from my son letting me know my granddaughter was ready to arrive.  Couldn't go back to sleep after that!

Tips, Tricks or hints- I am a new blogger and TPT contributor, so don't feel like I have much expertise to share, but I would say do what feels right or natural to you.  If write/create what you know you will have plenty to share.

So...I am heading out to the hospital to see my newest family member then to the grand opening of my sister's new wine bar- The Sanity Room for a little conversation and a cool well deserved beverage.

                                                                      Until next time....

Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Goals

I came across this link up hosted by Jess over at I {Heart} Recess and just knew I had to join in.  I firmly believe in setting goals with my students and yearly goals for myself as well.  However, I tend to be a little loosey-goosey with those long term goals so thought this monthly set might fair better (especially since they are actually written down and others can see them LOL)  It's all about accountability right?

So here are my July goals:

Personal- I recently tore apart my upstairs bathroom  and stairwell to do a little remodel.  I have finished up painting in the bath, now need to make a curtain (I can't sew to save my life!) and do some texturing/painting in the stairwell.

Family- we have many quick places of interest I want to take the kids to before it is time for school.  They are growing up so fast and busy with their own interests, it is hard to find time to squeeze in when we can all just hang out together.

Health- My summer goal is to loose 15 pounds.  I did well this Spring-I gave up soda for Lent, but completely reverted to old habits once Easter was over.  Trying to drink more water or green tea instead of my favorite Dr. Pepper is something I have to really get back to.

School- Seems I can't get away from thinking/planning for next year.  We will be focusing on ELA Common Core this year, so I want to get through my materials and get things ready to go.

Blog/TPT-  I have actually just started blogging myself.  I've been doing a lot of blog stalking and can't wait to connect with other teachers out there. My TPT store is pretty bare, so hoping I can create/tweak some of my materials to get them ready for the store.

Outside the box: My Pinterest boards are MESSY.  I need to go through those and get it reorganized and put those great pins to use.

                                                               Until next time....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Colored Folders Galore- {Optimum Organization #4)

I can't believe it is the last Saturday of June! Where has the time gone?  Since it's Saturday, you know it's time to link up with Kristen and Elizabeth for the Optimum Organization tips and tricks.  I don't know about you, but I am getting lots of ideas and inspiration as I stalk through the blogs linked up for this linky. I am soooo thankful these ladies decided to host this!

Ok today, I want to share one way I try to help my students stay organized.  I am a color coordinator.  I mean I am obsessive about color coordination.  (There I said it- that's the first step right?)  My students come at the beginning of the year with 5 folders: red, blue, green, yellow and one of their choice.  I used to have the students write the subject on each folder but you know those nice heavy folders with the shiny covers...the marker tends to rub right off, so....in comes my handy dandy folder labels.

(I went through a stage where I was making cute labels for everything under the sun...these I actually kept up).  I pass out a strip of the labels to each student and we put them the top of each folder as we place them in their desks in the order we will do the subjects throughout the day. For those of you interested, I have put these labels up in my TPT store.  They are FREE for the time being.

Now about the color coordination.  We use the red folder for reading.  Anything I print off for the students, I copy on pink paper (red is to dark and hard to read).  They know pink papers go in the red folder.  Science is the green folder and all science papers are green, we use the blue folder and blue papers for Social Studies, the yellow folder and yellow paper is for math and the folder of their choice is for writing (I copy all the things for language arts on purple paper).  The visual match of the paperwork with their folder helps the students know where their things need to be.  When I have students who misplace an item we can tell quickly if it is in the wrong folder because the colors don't match.  It is also helpful for me when papers are in my bag at the end of the day, I can tell at a glance what subject I still need to check at home. Plus if something gets turned into the wrong basket, the color of the paper makes it stand out of the rest and we can find missing work that they know they turned in.

Another place I use color is in my student files.  I use a 3 folder system to store student information throughout the year.  For each student I have a red, yellow and blue folder. (I use numbers on these to make it easy to use year after year and to insure confidentiality).  In the red folder I keep things like IEP accommodations and goals, any behavior write ups, permission slips, our behavior contract, notes from home; basically they are things that only I need to see.  The yellow and blue folders are for student work.  In the yellow folder I keep all the assessments the students complete throughout the year.  I share these at conferences but they don't go home.  In the blue folder I keep pieces of student work from the current trimester.  This folder is also something I share at conferences,  the difference is all the things in this folder go home with the parents. I keep the two separate folders for student work so that I don't accidentally send home assessments that I need to keep at school.

Well, that's my organizational idea for today.  Hope you have a great Saturday!
                                                                        Until next time....

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fiction Friday- Round 3

It's Friday and time to share some more children's fiction.  I was actually able to get three of the 2013-2014 Iowa Children's Choice books read this week to share today.

The first book I want to share is Ghost Dog Secrets by Peg Kehret.  (She is one of my all time favorite authors! What a great storyteller!)

After Rusty Larson spies a German Shepard chained to a tree with no food or water during a sleet storm, he decides he must do something to help it.  When animal control tells him they can't do anything to help with out proof of abuse, he and his friend Andrew hatch a plan to take care of the dog, they have now named Ra.  One night Rusty notices that Ra has been hurt, so he and Andrew unchain the him and take him back to their clubhouse.  While all this is going on, the ghost of a collie has been paying Rusty visits.  She seems to want Rusty's help in protecting/helping Ra and a new dog at Ra's owner's house.  When Ra's owner finds out Rusty and his mom have his dog, he begins making threats to take the dog and more.  With the ghost dog's help, Rusty finds a way to keep Ra safe and put an end to "Mean Man's" cruelty.

This is a wonderful story that has a great message about stepping up and helping solve problems.  One of the things Rusty's teacher tries to teach his class is that everyone can help solve problems instead of always saying "Someone ought to do something" be the someone who does.

Reading Level: 3-6 grade
Pages: 184

Book 2 for this week is Mallory Goes Green by Laurie Friedman.  This is the 13th book in the Mallory McDonald series.

In this story, Mallory's school has taken the pledge to "Go Green" and Mallory is gung ho to make everyone around her do just that.  She volunteers to be the class representative for the school Green Committee and present an idea for her class to do for the Green Fair.  All doesn't go as planned when her idea for the fair isn't popular with her classmates.  Mallory must learn to listen to everyone's ideas and be a team player if they are truly going to be a Green Team.

Mallory is a very lovable character (think Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody and Amber Brown all rolled up together).  While it is a simply told story, its message to readers about working together and really listening to those around you is an important one to get across.  This would be a fun story for Earth Day or when launching a communities unit to get everyone working together.

Reading Level:  3-5 grades
Pages: 158

Book 3 for this week is an emotional story entitled Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.  Tissues needed for this one!

After a tragic accident leaves eleven-year-old Aubrey Priestly alone, she believes she has everything she needs to run her household: a house, food and a new family (a beta fish named Sammy).  Aubrey is unable to talk about the tragedy that has so drastically changed her life.  The only way she can deal with her life now and get her feelings out is by writing letters to her sister's imaginary friend, Jilly.

When her grandmother takes her home to Vermont, Aubrey begins to get "unstuck" as she calls it.  With new friendships and the warm nurturing love of those around her, she learns that she is not alone and that she can heal and move on.  Aubrey must make a hard decision when she is faced with the one wish of her heart's desire.

This was a wonderful story.  I laughed and cried with Aubrey as she dealt with her grief and came out the other side of it.  This is a story about loss, but is also a story of hope. I would highly recommend this book!

Reading Level: 3-6 grades
Pages: 262

I'm off to AdventureLand with the kids.
                                                     Until next time...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It #2

It's Monday!  Time to share my Monday Made It for this week's link up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics.

I'm not ready with a home made it for this week.  I've been busy redoing my upstairs bathroom and tearing out ugly brown paneling in the stairwell...(can you say early 80's blah).  Lots of cleaning, painting and sweating!  I'll be sure to show off my hard work when I get it finished up.

Lately I've been thinking about doing an objective board in my classroom.  We aren't required to post our objects, but I've seen some neat boards on Pinterest and really think it might be helpful for my students (and even myself) to have that reminder posted of what we are focusing on for a week.  With that in mind, I have started making I Can posters for the individual skills in the Common Core for math and English Language Arts.  This week I completed the math statements.  I will be putting the math up on my TPT store later today  Free for this week.  Let me know what you think of them.
I am planning to do a checklist to put in student data folders to go along with these to have as a record for each child to show at conferences; I hope to get that done to share for next time.  

Don't forget to check out the other Monday Made its- oh the inspirations!!  Have a great week!

                    Until next time....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Organizing the Classroom library- {Optimum Organization #3}

For today's Optimum Organization link up, I am going to share how I organized my classroom library and the system I use to keep track of the books students have checked out.

My classroom library is actually made up of two big sections.  In this picture you are seeing the "fiction area"  where students will find books under historical fiction, mystery, realistic fiction and more.

In the middle of my classroom on the back wall is the "nonfiction area" where students will find reference books (dictionaries, thesaurus and atlases) along with the biographies, autobiographies and other information type books.

As you can see all the books in the classroom library are displayed face out in many, many baskets. In each area, the baskets are either sorted by genre or by author. I have the genre baskets all grouped together on the shelves to make it easier to locate books for students and for putting books away.

Each basket is labeled with a card displaying the specific genre (you can get them FREE at my TPT store). Knowing how tough it can be for students to put books back where they found them, I added another element to help them out.  On the outside of each book I have placed a colored sticker dot which represents a specific genre. (For example, a dark green dot is realistic fiction, blue = mystery, etc).  Inside the front cover of the book, there a another sticker that says the type of book it is, along with a book pocket and colored card bearing the title of the book.  The color of the book card matches the color of the dot.  When students check out a book, they put the book's card into the pocket of blue chart that corresponds with their number.  At a glance, I can see who has books checked out from our library and what genres they are reading.  After finishing a book, the students put the card back in the book and put the book into any one of the baskets labeled for that genre. (I decided it was too much of a headache to try to make sure that books went into the exact same basket it came out of).

During the school year, I display books for the author/genre of the month, a basket of new books and a basket for books that need to visit the book hospital.

That's my idea for this week.  Don't forget to link up with Kristin & Elizabeth with your organizing tips.

Hope you enjoyed a quick peek at my classroom library.

                                                                     Until next time.....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fiction Friday- Second Round

For this week's Fiction Friday I chose The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Ivan is a silverback gorilla living in the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  He doesn't mind the humans watching him through the glass windows of his domain.  He spends his days watching TV, painting pictures, talking with his friends Bob, a stray dog, and Stella, an elephant, and eating.  He doesn't think about the jungle or his family, so he doesn't miss them.
Ivan is content with his life until he meets Ruby, an orphaned baby elephant who has been brought to live at the mall.  He finally remembers that one of the key roles a silverback has is to protect his family.  Ivan must come up with a way to save Ruby from a dismal fate at the Big Top Mall and Arcade and get her to a real zoo where she will be with other elephants in a safe and well cared for environment.

I loved this story!  It is told by Ivan as he lives out his days in his domain-he refuses to refer to it as a cage.  Ruby's arrival at the mall caused Ivan to look at the mall, his art and his life in a new light. The characters are wonderful both the animal characters and the humans they interact with.  It is a heart-warming story about friendship, family and the relationship between humans and animals. 

"I like colorful tales, the ones with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do." 

This quote by Ivan sums up his story very well.  The beginning isn't so black, but it definitely has a stormy middle and a cloudless blue-sky ending.  

Reading Level: Grades 3-5
Pages: 320

                  Until next time....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday Made It!

I loved reading the Monday Made It posts last summer, so this summer I vowed it was going to try my hand at it myself and link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics..  Heaven knows I have plenty of projects/creations on my list of summer to dos, so I shouldn't have an issue coming up with ideas! ت

Without further ado my first Monday Made It for home are my garden brick books.  I have seen craft this on Pinterest and have been dying to make them.  We don't use our front door, so I thought my front steps would make an ideal outdoor "bookshelf".  It was the perfect craft to get me started for the summer.  I have decided that I need more books on my shelf so need to pick up some more bricks- thankfully my parents have a pile out back that are free for the taking! ت  

My school project was a MUCH larger task then the bricks, but thanks to the awesome tutorial by Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files on how to use PowerPoint to make printables, I was able to get the job done without pulling my hair out.

I have been using a Reader's -Writer's notebook with my students for the past several years.  I started out using folders with fasteners, then moved to 3-ring binders but neither really seemed to be the best fit. My plan for this summer was to compile all the different files I had on my computer for this notebook and send it to our area education agency to have it bound as a true spiral.  I am hoping that this simplified format will make it more user friendly for my students.  I had been plugging away with it using MS Word and it was going Ok until I made an error formatting some page and it messed up the whole document! I couldn't find the error and was ready to bawl! (I was up to 93 pages done)  So....I took a break from that and cruised through some of my favorite blogs where I came across Kristen's tutorials.  She saved me!  I was able to recreate the whole book in PPT and even added graphics to make it CUTE!  I finished up the whole thing this morning and love how it turned out.  Here's  a quick peek-tell me what you think.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Organizing student materials- Table Boxes

So, here's one of my ideas for organizing student materials.  Be sure to check out some of the other great organizing tips as part of Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files and Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B's summer linky series Optimum Organization.

This past year our district adopted the EveryDay Math series, so in an attempt to have the materials students would need readily available I created these table boxes.

My student desks are arranged in 6 groups of 4 desks each, so I have enough supplies in each box for all the members of a group.

In each box I have included 4 white boards and dry erase markers, rulers, 2 decks of the Everyday Math cards (we don't have enough for every student, so they partner up), math geometry templates, small and large post-it notes, highlighters and visa-vi markers, dice and a small piece of padded shelf liner they roll the dice on (it cuts down on the noise of the dice on the desktops). 

The table captain for each group is responsible for picking up their table box at the beginning of the, making sure all the materials are returned to the box and putting the box back on the community shelf at the end of the day.  This system work great for me.  I knew the materials would be ready whenever the students needed them and we didn't have a lot of fuss or hassle getting things out.

Until next time....

Friday, June 14, 2013

Organizing student work

I am super excited to link up with Kristen at
Ladybug Teacher Files and Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B for their summer blog party on organizing.  Be sure to check out some of the great ideas that have been shared so far!

One of the ways I try to help both my students and myself stay organized is my homework station.  In front of my desk, I keep a file organizer on an extra desk which has a colored file folder for each subject.  Students put their completed work in the correct folder then place a check by their name showing they have turned it in.  I can pull out the folder and check at a glance who has turned things in.  As part of my student jobs, I have a homework clerk whose job is to put the homework in numerical order.  This student can take the folder and put the papers in alphabetical order by using the student checklist inside.  When I am ready to sit down and correct their work I can simply grab a folder, check their work and enter it in my grade book very easily.