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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