Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Teacher Tips: EOY Planning

As I close out my third year teaching I'm starting to finally feel like I'm not trying to stay afloat anymore. This is possibly the last year I will be a floating teacher and I get to stay in the same classroom. I have started to develop little systems that work for me in the classroom. Here are a few things I'll be doing this year (this week) to get ready for Back to School in August!

Setting up my bulletin boards
Creative Teaching Press has a lot really cute Back to School stuff! When I saw the light bulb borders, I knew I had to have them. They just remind me of Genius Hour!! Awesome! I layered the border on two of my boards and finished them today. I plan on trying to finish up the other board before the end of the week. 

Setting up a First Week Box!
I did NOT come up with this idea. I saw it floating around and decided I was going to make it happen this year. What's in the box so far? Our Spelling Morphology Dictionaries, Vocabulary 4 Square Notebooks and Back to School Brochures. Here are some more things I plan on adding: Learning Inventory Surveys & Trackers, Reading Notebook Items and Student Name Tags! I'm hoping to coax my secretary into seeing my class list early. :)

What do you do ahead of time to get set up for a new school year? 

Also, be sure to check me out over at Ramona Recommends tomorrow where I'll be guest posting about Summer Read Alouds!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Five For Friday: May 15th, 2015

What happens when you do a Five for Friday on Saturday? :D

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for some cool and random things from this week!

As we are closing out the school year, we thought it would be fun to do a Book Recommendation Snow Ball Fight in class. We did a regular snowball fight at the BOY to get to know one another, this one was even better. We wrote a short synopsis for a favorite book we've read this school year, crinkled up our papers, had a snowball fight {mind the open windows please} and then picked up the nearest snowball to check out our rec. Then we worked together in small groups to see if the recs were books we might be interested in trying.

Donalyn Miller's May 4th post about upcoming summer reading really struck a chord with me. Everything she writes does. The post reminded teachers that there should not be incentives attached to reading. It's the time of year where people start to offer treats and rewards for reading and it has been proven through research that the act of attaching any type of reward or consequence to reading can have detrimental effects on kids and building life-long reading habits. You should really take a few minutes to read the post!

I have a student this year who is really loving Stephanie Bodeen's books. He devoured The Compund and is now reading Fallout. He is probably finishing as I type this post. His reading response letters have been some of my favorite to read and respond to this school year. He is an excellent writer and Stephanie has retweeted his posts a few times this year, so he's kind of a celebrity in our classroom.

Our 5th Grade is putting our their Annual EOY Play and man, it is getting intense. This is my first year in 5th grade, but apparently we have not had nearly the same amount of practice time as years past. A lot of that is due to PARCC testing {boo!} The kids are working hard and I'm hoping that things will come together soon. We have been practicing at my old High School and it has been nostalgic for me to be back where I spent so much of my time as a student. Loved Theatre!

This year, I organized a Book Drive so all of our K-5 students could take home 1-3 books for the summer. The students get to keep the books and the rest of them are going to a Cincinnati area school in dire need of many things. Teachers cleaned out their libraries and lockers and we ended up having so many donations! It was really a cool thing to see. I can't wait to really get it organized next year so we can have some newer books for the kids to keep at home.
The organization was really simple. I asked teachers to donate old books they didn't want anymore. I sent out a school-wide email with times for each grade level. Then, teachers were responsible for bringing down their own classes and letting their kids choose books. Besides the emails and storing the books until it was time, it was pretty painless. I had students help me set-up and our librarian helped me pack the remaining books up to be donated to Millvale Elementary.

A super eventful week! I can't believe we have less than 2 weeks until summer. I'm ready for a little break to rejuvenate my mind and spirit. Next year will be even better.

Summer Share: Student Driven Life-Long Reading Habits

After spending all school year really focusing on making independent reading the cornerstone of our classroom, an idea just HIT ME a few weeks ago. We do all of this work all year teaching our kids all of the things Wild Readers do, then we get to see them becoming Wild Readers before our eyes, so why isn't the next step having them pass it on to other students?? Genius, right?

Your Upper Grades kiddos might be ready for this challenge if you notice a lot of the following:
1. Passing of books & recommendations on to one another
2. Talking during IR time to share some amazing moment with someone, anyone!
3. Walking into homeroom talking about books
4. Walking into homeroom asking a friend how far they got in their book last night OR sharing with your teacher how many pages YOU read last night
5. Audible gasps for any of the following: new Scholastic book box arrives, new Book Raffle set up at the back table, Preview Stack waiting on your desk from your teacher, being the next on a Wait List for a new release you've been dying to get ahold of
6. Updating your teacher on your progress towards the class 40 Book Challenge
7. Sneaking in "edge reading time" in the bus line, waiting for lunch, before special, etc.
8. Begging for "5 more minutes..."
9. Looking forward to writing weekly reading response letter AND
10. Devouring an entire series

Are your kids ready? Mine were... Enter Summer Share.
We sat down and starting a BRAINSTORM. Can we take a moment to appreciate how boss the word brainstorm is... There is a storm of information, in your brain, amazing. I digress... 
We sat down to talk about our own plans for summer reading. How will I finish Echo when I'm borrowing Mrs. Riedmiller's copy? What am I going to do until Lisa Graff's new book comes out? What was that book Lydia told me I should read? The questions were flowing... We were making plans, because everyone knows that WILD READERS MAKE PLANS.

Then I threw this out there: "I think we should visit 2nd grade and share all our book knowledge with them. Show them how we do things down here and then help them make summer reading plans."
YESSSSS! That's awesome, yes! Can we do that??
{enter 5th grade excitement}

Then we decided on some core things we HAD to share:
1. Book Commercials (2-3)
2. Book Recommendations (By genre & series)
3. How to make a TBR (to be read list)
4. How to chart your books read & "sample" all genres
5. 1:1 conferences to help 2nd graders choose some books based on their interests

We had a plan, so then we set to work...
We made posters to show our Reading in the Wild charts from our notebooks.
We chose some great 2nd grade titles.
We borrowed Mrs. Riedmiller's laptop to start our rec list.

Then, we kept working...
We made and practiced book commercials.
We used the Chromebooks to type out our genre lists.
We made sample TBR lists for use as examples.

Then, we were ready to share.

What happened during the sharing part was kind of magical. My kids were up there talking Big Nate and suddenly 2nd grade eyes light up at the mention of Nate and all of his adventures. 2nd grade Friends remember that their teacher read-aloud from a Magic Tree House book and they are excited to hear an older kid mention the series. A friend pulls out a Minecraft manual from his chair pocket to share with my 5th graders. IT. WAS. MAGIC!

Doing this made me see just how much my own kids have learned this year; it showed me how much they have grown in their life-long reading journeys. You better believe we'll be doing this again next year. I can't wait to sit down and really give this planning process some energy and thought.

You should definitely do this with your own class as an EOY activity!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary is a work in progress for me. I've heard some research stating that teaching vocabulary is isolation is just IRRELEVANT. That got me thinking... I already DO NOT teach vocabulary in isolation. That's a step in the right direction, right? I still feel like I'm not {quite} there... 

Step One: On my summer reading list is Word Nerds by Brenda Overturf
Have you guys read this one? I've heard great things and I'm hoping it will help me up my vocab game!

Guess what I'm working on?? setting up vocabulary notebooks for AUGUST. I know, I can't believe I'm this on top of it right now. We love using Frayer's 4 Square Model and it really helps the words become more concrete for my big kids! I've already made plans to finish these and Ladybug's Teacher Files Morphology Spelling Dictionaries next week. I figure if these are all taken care of, that's one less "not so fun" thing I need to prep in the Summer. Bye Felicia!
{Also, Astrobrights Cardstock makes my life. Such an ink saver!}

Step Three: Plan more hands-on, engaging vocabulary activities
I'm working on getting together some great strategies to share with my 4th graders next year. I am in the middle of a puzzle project right now, and I'm hoping Word Nerds really comes through with some Research-Proven Activities! If you have any suggestions, please comment below!

How do you make vocabulary stick for your students? I'm all ears!

Friday, May 8, 2015

MAY you always love to read!

Get ready... The #wecantputbooksdown Girls are back with a Linky for May. New to the Crew is the most amazing and talented TeacherSunny. Find her on IG.
She is one of my most inspiring teacher buddies! 

This month we're talking about what we do in our classrooms to promote MAY you always love to read! I have a ton of things that I do to try to get my kids to really LOVE reading. I want to start the post by saying that my go-to resource for developing life-long readers is Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. If you know me, you know I'm slightly obsessed with the Reading Queen and all that she has taught me about turning my kids into avid readers. Let's pause, take a look at the photo, get online and order this book... I'll wait.
Did you get it ordered? Good, thank me later!

I'm attending a Scholastic Reading Summit this summer where Donalyn will be speaker, along with Mr. Schu (obsessed with him too) and that fantastic Cynthia Lord. I'm so excited to learn more about reading with these fantastic advocates, and if you don't know Mr. Schu, go check him out. I'll wait again.

We had and awesome giveaway on Instagram where each person either gave away something fantastic from their TpT store or an Amazon gift card to buy more books. Thanks for checking in and don't forget to get back with us in June! :)

My IG post was about giving my kids the gift of TIME when it comes to reading. We spend 20-30 minutes everyday reading in class. This is Independent, free choice, reading for pleasure time. There is no worksheet attached, no work, no harassing teacher sucking the fun out of the room.
You may be shaking your head saying "Stacey, how do you find the time?" Well, my question to you is "How do you NOT find the time?" It has been said that kids should spend more time reading than doing reading related activities. Does that ring true in your classroom, I can say it does in mine. IR time is not the first thing cut from my schedule if something comes up (and doesn't it always?)... You have to make an effort. You make time for what you feel is important. Bottom line. What are not willing to compromise in your schedule? For me, it's this time. This time where all the magic happens. Where kids nurture their love of reading or discover it for the first time.

Here are some photos of my kiddos really loving their reading time... I mean seriously, kids beg for this time. That's how you know you're doing something right. They can't wait to take out their books.

So, what are you doing in your room to make sure your kids develop a life-long love of reading?
Check out some of my great friends on IG for their suggestions... Anything from time to book raffles and book commercials!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Upper Grades Common Core Exit Tickets

For almost this whole school year, I have had this idea in my head of how fantastic it would be to have Exit Tickets ready to go for each of the ELA Common Core Standards. As the year has gone on, I have found meaningful slips here and there, but nothing that was an all-in-one type of resource.

Well, what do I do when I'm faced with this conundrum? I just make it. I'm fortunate enough to have learned quite a bit over the past three years when it comes to making things for my classroom. Where I am now is LIGHTYEARS ahead of where I was when I first made classroom job tags and my first bulletin board sets. For the most part, I've learned a lot by getting on PowerPoint and playing around. Some friends have also given me great tips along the way. I'm so thankful for this teacher community where you can learn from each other.

With that being said, this is the most proud I've ever been about something I've made. These are now my babies. The two sets that are now finished are 4th Grade ELA Literature Standards and 5th Grade ELA Literature Standards. I am working on 4th Grade's Informational Text Standards next. My plan... is to finish all of the ELA Standard for both grades within the month. I know that I can meet that goal.

I am always making up exit tickets on the fly after a lesson on point of view or inference, now I have them all ready to go in one place and I have a way of building on the skills needed to master the standard. There isn't just one ticket per standard, there are multiple ones to use as true formative assessments giving you and me meaningful data along the way!

The idea behind the whole thing is that you'll be able to check these out over the summer and make a plan for really utilizing them for formative assessment in the fall. Intentional formative assessment, which is something I'm trying to get better at next year.

If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen some of these images already. Both of the finished sets are on sale for $6 throughout the weekend to celebrate them being finished. They will be back to full-price on Monday!

One of the Student Checklists included (students color like a bar graph):

I had a current student who is a Greek Mythology Buff help me with the 4th Grade tickets!

Thanks to everyone out there who has purchased these already, and please, offer me any feedback you have. If there is something that is too hard or too easy, new ideas, whatever. I'm all ears!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Visit my store here.

Currently: May!

It's my first Currently here at the new blog. Isn't that exciting??
I'm excited to be linking up with the beautifully fantastic Farley from Oh Boy 4th Grade!
You should go link up, too. So much fun.

This is the first weekend we have had IN A WHILE where we don't have any set plans. I'm taking full advantage by doing nothing but working on school stuff, hanging out with the family and eating.
Nothing sounds better.