Sunday, December 7, 2014

Differentiation Tips & a Currently Freebie!

Hi Friends!
  I don't know about y'all, but I could really use a slow down right about now. This month is flying by, and November is just a blur. How is it that Christmas is almost here?  I need more days...of the weekend kind, to be specific.  Do you think I could ask Santa for that??

   In the haste of the season, I have neglected my sweet little blog.  However, I am so fortunate to be guest blogging over at Laura Candler's Corkboard Connections today. She is absolutely AH-Mazing, and I am so excited to be on her blog!!  It's a post all about an easy way to differentiate centers in your classroom.  Click the picture below if you want to check that out.....but come back... I have a FREEBIE for ya!!

 If you're still with me here, I always hate to miss an opportunity to link up with Farley & the Currently.  So, while I'm super late to this party, I still wanted to join. Consider it being fashionably late...or something like that. Christmas music. It's my fave, and I always have it on when the season rolls around. It just makes me happy :)

Loving.... that it's finally cooling off down here in the dirty south. This past week, it was in the mid 70's and kids were wearing shorts to school!  This weekend has brought us a little bit of a cool down, and I'm loving jeans, boots and sweaters. It's so hard to Christmas shop while your sweating!

Thinking... that, speaking of Christmas shopping, I really need to get on it. I'm almost done, but have a few more to go. It's always those last ones that are so hard for me. Then, there's stocking stuffers.  While I LOVE getting them, it's such a struggle to come up with good ones for others.  Yep, got Christmas on the brain for sure!

Wanting...everything I see.  Why is it that in the months leading up to Christmas, I can't come up with a single thing I want, then when I'm shopping for others, I want every . single. thing!  The struggle is real, y'all.... the struggle is real!

Needing... absolutely nothing. I am truly blessed.  Ok, ok, I could go for a nice massage or a winning lottery ticket, but truth is, I'm happy :)

Giving... this Rudolph! Rudolph! Freebie!  My kids love doing this little book every year, and it's a cute way to review, practice and assess color words and rhyming words, too! The kids fill in the rhyming color word, and then color Rudolph's nose to match. :)  Just click the picture to grab it!

So, that's it for me, friends. As always, thanks for stopping by & I wish you the SMOOTHEST of days as the holiday approaches :)

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Five for Friday: If Today Had a Face & a Freebie!

Hi Friends... Happy Friday!!
    Nothing says how I feel about Friday better than these two pictures...
 Truth. Happens every. single. time.
This was me on the way out the door today. Woo hoo & TGIF!!

So, yeah, you could say I'm pretty excited about Friday.  This week has been a crazy one, but I absolutely LOVE linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky.  

It's so much fun to see what everyone has been up to. goes! 
 I got to school Monday morning to see this....
One of my bookshelves decided to give way over the weekend, and all of the books fell to the floor. I think that's a sign that I need to go through my thousands of books and clean out. I spent 2 hours on the floor just going through these! Time to talk sweet ole' Dad into fixing this :)

Speaking of sweet ole' Dad....
Veterans Day was Tuesday, and I just love this picture of my pop. He was so young...and handsome, if I do say so  myself :)  I come from a long line of veterans - grandfather, uncles, dad, brother - just about every single male in my family has served in the military, so Veterans Day is something very near and dear to my heart.  I honestly think we should be thanking our vets EVERY SINGLE day. My hats off to all those who served, are serving, or will serve to protect our freedoms.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our math focus this week has been on fact families, and we have been LOVIN' IT!
Our local McDonalds donated these fry containers so we could really show off what we know about fact families.  I got this idea from Pinterest, but I couldn't find the original source. If you are that person, or know that person, please let me know so I can give credit where it's due.

The kids really did LOVE it & we finished up with some cut and paste action.
A friend of mine used the little bitty containers that come in Happy Meals, which I think is a great idea! I differentiated the families each student received, and then used this as an assessment. If you'd like a copy of the cut & paste for FREE, just click the picture.

As I mentioned, this week has been a crazy one. Truth be told, this YEAR has been crazy.
I keep reading about all these other teachers talking about how they are just drowning in all the "to do's" this year.  It breaks my heart to hear, but it also makes me feel better to know I'm in good company.

This week,I had to sit down and prioritize...make myself a daily reminder of what I REALLY needed to focus my energy on.
One of my favorite quotes is , "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?"  So, I am making a vow to pray more and worry less....and take better care of ME! 
None of us can be the best in the classroom if we don't do this first. :)

 Lastly, I gotta talk about this weather thing.  I wore cropped pants to work on Monday...dressing for the weather and not the season, you know.
Today, I was bundled up like the kid in a Christmas story. 
Now, I LOVE winter... the cold weather, the boots, the sweaters, but WOW, it showed up with a vengeance this year,and FAST!

So, that's it for me. I'm off to grab me some Starbucks, and do a little winter shopping. Nothing like a change in the weather to make me want new clothes, and hate every single thing in my closet.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL week! Only one more, and we get a BREAK. 
WoO HoO!

As always, thanks for stopping by :)

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Journal Writing for Critical Thinking & a FREEBIE!

Hi Friends!
   If your school is anything like mine, the words "differentiation" and "critical thinking skills" are floating around the hallways and lounge like gnats in the summer.  Not to mention the talk of extended response opportunities in writing and content areas.....they're everywhere I turn!
   In my quest for ways to "up my game" with my firsties, I came across some excellent articles and research on using more WHY questions in journal prompts and activities.  There are some great suggestions for implementing this in the classroom, but the one I loved the most was the use of "Would You Rather?" questions. 

   You know.... would you rather be able to fly or be invisible? Kids LOVE these type of questions ( and I think most of us do, too!), but the real THINKING comes in when they have to explain WHY... they have to put into words WHY they made a certain choice.

  To start this in my class, I put up a journal prompt on the Promethean Board.
We have to differentiate our morning work, so my kids are divided into 4 colored groups. The dots under the journal prompt represent how many sentences are required of each group.

  I gave a mini-lesson sentence writing before we started. We discussed the importance of really explaining our thinking and providing details in our writing. 

  Friends, I was AMAZED at how well my kiddos did... Amazed!  Here is an example from one of my friends. This picture is from a journal writing before we started these prompts:
And, this is his journal entry using the "Would You Rather?" prompt:
Wow!  I love that he wants to be a boy mermaid, and talks about volcanoes on the ocean floor! 
So many details. :)

Here are some other writing samples using this approach...
 This sweet girl is one of my lowest babies, and I couldn't believe how much she wrote. She was so proud of herself, too. 

Yeah, we still have some work to do.  Especially on NOT starting all of our sentences with the word "and". 
This one wants to be a mermaid boy, too! 

This prompt was "Would you rather eat 1000 marshmallows or one bug?"  I love how this friend said "...because I'm not a bug eater!"  

Apparently, this firstie thinks living on the moon would be fadelis (fabulous) and cool!

I am just loving all the details I am seeing in my kids' writing. 
They are REALLY thinking and providing evidence for their thoughts.

The "Would You Rather?" idea is certainly not mine. There are ideas and prompts all over the place!!

I just took the idea and ran with it.  I created a set of prompts for the month of November, so that I can post one every morning when the kids come in the room.

This set includes the differentiated prompts I use in my classroom, as well as the same ones without the differentiation piece.

There are also printable pages if you would like to make a monthly journal for students.

If you already have journals you use in the classroom, I've also provided cut-apart prompts for each day.

Check out the FREEBIE of these pages by clicking {HERE}.

The full product can be found {HERE}or by clicking on any of the above pictures.

I hope you can use some of these prompts in your own classroom! I've already got my mind running on more prompts for December.  

Of course, my mind is full of lots of teacher questions, like "Would You Rather.... have 40 students in your classroom with wonderful parents or only teach 10 children but have difficult parents?"  or....

"Would You Rather teach 12 hours a day with NO meetings ever, or teach 6 hours a day and have a meeting twice a day?" Hmmm... What do YOU think? :)

Have a great week & thanks for stopping by!!!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mummy Sentences & a FREEBIE!

I'm sure you're all with me when I say this week is CRAZY!  The kids are all so excited about Halloween & we are just trying to keep our heads above water. I am so happy Halloween is on a Friday this year...can I get an Amen on that?!
I've always thought November 1st was the hardest day to teach. The candy highs...then the candy's just too much! :)

Anyway, one of my most popular blog posts was when we did an activity focused on the 4 types of sentences & using Mo Willems' pigeon books. 
(You can find this activity {here})

This year, our sentence focus fell on this fabulous week of Halloween, so I decided to change it up a little bit.

We read the book Where's My Mummy? which includes ALL four sentence types in the text. Plus, it's super cute & the kids love it.

After reading, we created an anchor chart of the 4 types of sentences.  Not my best work, I admit, but it served the purpose and the kids generated all of the sentences during the lesson.

After making our anchor chart & sorting sentence strips representing the different types of sentences (sorry, forgot to take a picture), we moved onto our activity - Mummy Sentences!!!

Each child was given a different sentence bubble - a different shape for each type of sentence. I gave my lower babies declarative and interrogative because they were more familiar with those types of sentences. My higher learners were asked to create imperative and exclamatory sentences.

After filling in our speech bubbles, it was Mummy Time!

Each child was given a cut out  mummy & asked to cut or tear paper to "wrap" their mummy.
They turned out so cute!
Honestly, I had to do a lot of "let it go" because I am somewhat of a control freak when it comes to crafts, but I really do love how these turned out.

They are each very unique... I can definitely say that!
 This one looks like he is wearing glasses!

This kiddo almost covered the whole thing! He was very particular about being neat, though.

And this friend won the "unique" prize! I've never seen a mummy wrapped vertically. Too cute.

So,that's it. Easy and a great way to demonstrate understanding of the 4 sentence types. We also did this little cut & paste as an assessment. Click on the picture to grab your own copy.

If you'd like a copy of the speech bubbles we used for the activity, click {here}.

So, that's it for me, friends.I hope you can use this quick and cute little activity in your Halloween planning. As always, thanks for stopping by and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Five for Friday: Gimme a Break!!

Woo hoo - it's finally Friday!
Time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching & her super fun weekly linky....
I always love reading what everyone is up to each week.  
Here's my FIVE....
 This week, it's been All About Adjectives!!  We started with popping popcorn & using our 5 senses to describe how it sounded, tasted, smelled, felt, and looked.  We also read some monster books &  created our own creature. Then, we described them!. The kids loved it!!  Don't you just love how my little friend used and spelled the word "hideus"?  :)
We also used our study of adjectives to work on our writing.
Using "Adjective Pumpkins" by Kelley at the Teacher Idea Factory, the kids each created their own pumpkin (no pencils, just scissors!) & had to write a story using at least FIVE adjectives.
 I absolutely LOVE how they turned out!!!  This kids said his pumpkin had a mustache!
 And this one's hair is just too cute.
I love any project that lets the kids be creative!  My Type-A personality really likes a craftivity template, but when my firsties get to let loose & create, it always turns out great! 
I. Must. Let. Go. haha! :)

 We worked on sneaky e all week & made these super cute puppets inspired by First Grade Wow. 
My kids love watching the "Silent e is a ninja...." video by The Electric Company, so this was a perfect compliment to our learning.  I think they turned out so stinkin' cute....and I can't get that song out of my head!
And now, you can't either!

Volcano Day!!! 
If you missed my post about it, click {here} to read all about our Volcano study, and some super fun things to do with your students. My kids went nuts about our day!!
 Yesterday at our faculty meeting, we got to meet our new Partner in Education... Wal-Mart!
The manager came and gave us each a $50 gift card to the store to show their appreciation.
Plus, we got cake. Money and cake? Um, yes, please!

So, that's my week.... 
We were off school today & will be Monday for our "Fall Break".  We used to get a whole week...and I miss it....but I'm taking what I can get! 
This guy cracks me up every.single. time.  
And his stapler? Yeah, I'm kind of like that about my school supplies, too!

Happy Friday! Hope y'all have an awesome weekend, and thanks for stopping by! :)

Head on over to Doodle Bugs and link up.....what has YOUR way been like????

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