Saturday, August 22, 2015

First Week of 4th Grade!

School started on Thursday of this week after an Open House Tuesday night. ALL of my kids in my homeroom came to Open House where I had the chance to meet them AND their parents or guardians. After leaving Tuesday night, I knew we were ready for a great year!

This post will be a Frankenstein's Monster of pictures and reflections! Enjoy!

My husband took an idea I had and brought it to life by making me this Signpost!
 I did the writing on the boards, but everything else was all him and I'm obsessed with how it turned out.

I wanted my classroom door to reflect what we will be working on when it comes to building a classroom reading community. I added the "spines" of the books I read this summer and as students finish books in class, they will add the spines to the "bookshelves" on the door. I can't wait to see this filled up as the year goes on.

I have some great colleagues in 4th grade this year. They came up with the idea of doing some sort of social media board in our hall and then after a few discussions and some Pinterest browsing, we came up with this. Our Math teacher did all the labor on this one and I loved how her idea came to life. We will change out hashtags and photos, stories and drawings as the year goes on.

Our classroom library is the epicenter of the room and two days in, it is already getting a lot of use! We have gathered here to share stories this week and a lot of people gravitate to this area to work. 

Our first teacher day was Monday and it left me finally feeling prepared to start the school year. I didn't make it up to school as much as I usually do to prepare, but things went off without a hitch. After two days of schedule tweeking and getting used to my new daily duty as the Social Media Director (LOL) I think we finally might be in a groove for next week!

So, two years ago when I first went to fourth, I started chatting with my now reading bff, Lisa from Fourth and Ten. She was so helpful that first fourth grade year and gave me lots of ideas and support. She is the one who encouraged me to read Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna in the first days of school. We read the book and then did her Toothpaste Words activity to go along with it. We talked about how the toothpaste is like the feathers from the story. Once they are out, it's hard to get them back. This is always a hit each year (this is my third year doing it) and it leaves a lasting impression. It also proved as an excellent connection to Each Kindness, which I shared on Friday and we will do an activity with that Monday. I'll be sure to share.

I think taking the time to share these stories and build this community makes a huge difference!

Speaking of our community, the last book we shared for the week was The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. This book was shared with me from another friend, a third grade teacher in my building. We read the book and then watched the video. We talked about how books can help you escape reality and make you feel lots of different emotions. One student even added: 
"A book a day keeps reality away." Nailed it.

A little reflection: These kiddos feel like babies compared to the big bad 6th graders I just let go mere months ago. They are so cute, kind and SWEET. They are so sweet! I am loving my time with them already and I know this year will be the best yet. I am so excited to get back to work on Monday.

I hope everyone had a great start to the 2015-2016 school year. If you're not back yet, I encourage you to think about really spending some time with your kids during the first couple of weeks to get to know them and build a strong classroom community. You will reap the benefits all year!

Monday, August 10, 2015

2015 #PB10for10

I'm participating in this year's Picture Book 10 for 10 on 8/10! Since this is my first year participating, and my fourth year teaching, I decided to do a theme. I'm doing Picture Book a Day in my 4th grade classroom this Fall, so I think this time next year, I will have so many more picture books under my belt and I may have a more "I can't live without these books" list.

Make sure you check the hashtag on Twitter to see the posts from everyone.
If you are participating, you will have already joined the Google Group, so the posts will be available to you there. Enough talk, here we go! 

I decided to focus on my first 10 read alouds for this upcoming school year! This goes perfectly in hand with #classroombookaday because I have been getting together books and trying to piece them in at the right times. I don't know if this will remain final (I am an Indecisive Gemini), but we'll see. 

Here are my books and why I chose them.

This book was introduced to me by a colleague (Thanks Jess!) and I have read it to my kids ever since. There is an amazing YouTube video that goes along with it. The kids love the book and video each year. I find that it gives us a great jumping off point for the school year. The kids wonder, think and decide what happened in the story. Some kids pick up on the deeper metaphor the story presents. Whatever a student thinks, I know that they are already engaging in deep analysis of a picture book, day one. The music in the video is magical and I always end up crying. If you haven't read this one, get it right away!

Let me first say that I love Peter Brown's illustrations. If you do not know his books, please fix this dilemma. He will quickly become a favorite! I live in the same community where I teach, so this one is a perfect hit for me. My kids do often see me outside of school. I work hard to develop relationships with my kids and this is a great sidekick for me at the beginning of the year. Your teacher is a little hard on you, but just because she loves you? Sounds like me. See you at Kroger!

I love Loren Long, and she's the illustrator of this beautiful book. This book was recommending to me by one of my dearest teacher friends, Lisa, from Fourth And Ten! She has a great beginning of year activity that goes along with it called Toothpaste Words. The lesson in this book is powerful and very good for my big kids to hear in those first few days of school. I started using Lisa's idea of sharing this three years ago, and I think it's one that I will continue to keep on hand.

This book has quickly becoming one of my favorite books of the year! The message is one that all kids can identify with. Be who you are! Use your imagination and go places. I can't wait to share this with my incoming 4th graders! Added bonus, the illustrations are so whimsical.

I mean, if you love Mr. Schu then you love Nana and Lauren Castillo. This book touched my heart and will be the perfect book to share with kids at the beginning of a new year. Maybe you have some kids who are new, maybe you have some kids that will be spending their first year in the big bad 4/5 hallway, whatever the case, this story will help kids explore the unfamiliar.

I am working on getting some great Non-Fiction picture books into my classroom library this year. I have really started buying NF picture books and this one will be a great one to share with kids in August. The illustrations are so interesting and I'm hoping that this PB Biography gets my Students talking!

How can you NOT start the year sharing the Best Smelling Book of 2014??
Doesn't Sam and Dave Dig a Hole teach us so much about life? I love the conversations the kids have after reading this book. So many great themes come up and I am obsessed with Mac&Jon anyways. The combination of these two guys together.... Perfect. Also, be sure to share the  Book Trailer for this one before you read it. It's pretty amazing.

Speaking of the amazing Jon Klassen... Are you Team Bear or Team Rabbit? That's the question... The kids will love this story and it's one you will hear them talking about long after the story is over. I Want My Hat Back also has a great Book Trailer on Candlewick's YouTube site.

Is it obvious that I am a sucker for great illustrations? This book has some magnificent drawings that really draw the reader in. This too, is another book that celebrates creativity and imagination. I love to nurture those things in my kids and this book is so powerful in showing students that.

This book is so fantastic to help us keep with that creative vein and learn more about Genius Hour. We talk about ideas and how they start small and have the potential to grow into something huge. Helping students see that the idea process takes work and mistakes and dedication is a great thing to bring into focus at the start of the year. Growth Mindset!

There you have it, my 2015 #pb10for10. I'm going to check out all the other posts and hopefully I won't go broke after seeing the fabulous picture book suggestions!