Thursday, July 28, 2011

Foldable Tips: Matchbook

I wanted to clarify this foldable for the people who have asked. This is one of Dinah Zike's foldables. She is a genius! I recommend any and all of her books.

I took pictures as I folded this. It is very simple, just 2 folds. You can do this to any size paper, so be as creative as you want! It is a good idea to fold multiple papers at the same time. Easy, easy!

This is the small fold.
Take the top and curve it over. Fit the top of the paper into
the crease of the small fold.
Now fold it down.
This is just another view or how it looks when you open
the flap to reveal what is inside.
I think these are great for memory concepts like addition or subtraction facts. Great for anything! Good luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Clip Chart Update

So I have been thinking of a new and improved way to use my clip chart.

I was reading a fellow teacher's blog and she had a wonderful idea! Once Upon a Teaching Blog decided they were going to have the students color in a clip chart to take home for their families to reference at night. I thought that was a wonderful idea and had to make my own!
Mini Clip Charts to Color

I am going to have the kids color this on the first day when we are talking about our clip chart. Then we will tape it inside their take home folders. That way their parents can have a reference. 

Last year I would put smiley faces in their folders each day. This year I will have a better system. I am going to have markers to draw small squares in the left hand corner to show where they ended their day. This is going to be much more precise and another way to track their behavior. Here is an example of what I am going to do:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Classroom Update

So I went to my room and worked a little today. This first picture is the table right beside the door. It hold my mailboxes and lovely organizer that holds all sorts of things during the year.

I put my new crates under my guided reading table and I think they turned out well!

I am in the process of going through my classroom library. I am reorganizing and adding all my books to the online organizer It is awesome! It gives you a great way to look at all the books in your library, search them, and organize them. I will also be able to keep a running total of the number of books I own. Love it!

I have also been organizing my desk area. I hope I can keep my desk looking like this during the year. (Yeah right.) I really like my polka dots!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Book Whisperer Ch. 6

The Book Whisperer
Chapter 6
Cutting the Teacher Strings

Link up with Thinking of Teaching, The Polka Dot Patch, and Mrs. Wills Kindergarten to see what other people are saying!

"If reading a book together as a class doesn't improve students' reading ability or enjoyment of reading, what is the purpose of this practice? (pg. 123)
          I am so glad I read this chapter. I have confessed before that I was planning on making novel activities for my students this summer. Wow. Donalyn Miller has given me a new and better perspective. I was only doing this because I saw other teachers doing it. I remember doing them in school and I thought there was some merit in them. I am not so sure now. I want to share the wonder and happiness that comes with reading, not the tedious work that usually accompanies even the best books in school. I almost fell into that trap.

"Every concept and skill I teach, even when it involves grammar, connects back to students' independent work at some point, and I feel that this independent work must be self-selected reading and writing events, not the shorter goal of a worksheet or test practice." (pg. 131)
         This is something I need to post somewhere by my desk in my classroom. I need to keep this in mind whenever I am planning instruction and learning. I fell like this book is helping me grow as a teacher. It is amazing! A lot of this is making me think, "Duh Becca. You knew this. Why aren't you doing it?"

"Reading for the goal of performing is not motivating for students beyond their desire to ear a good grade on the test and may actually reduce their reading enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading outside of school." (pg. 131)
          Whew, this one hits close to home. I am guilty of using grades and assessments as the goal for student reading. That stops now. Our goal is going to be finding books that we love and sharing them with others. Learning all the skills will be so much easier if we can do that.

"Instead of narrowing my instructional focus to test prep, I prefer to teach reading standardized tests as its own genre. Here's how you read a map; her's how you read a newspaper article; and here's you you read a test." (pg. 134)
         I really like this idea. We have a big reading assessment that we work towards in January and then again in May. I can say that I hate those 2 tests. Nothing else really bothers me, but I HATE those. I really feel like they are inappropriate for the age group, but that is another story. I am going to focus on enriching our reading experiences instead of crazy test prep (in 2nd grade, I know!).

Book Commercials and Book Reviews (pg. 137-139)
          I can't wait to do these. We could even video the book commercials and post them on our class website or blog. I think these are awesome and authentic ways of learning about my students as readers.

Alternatives for reading aloud: Prepare and Practice, read in pairs, or use audiotapes. (pg. 148-149)
          We have a big push for fluency in 2nd grade. I am going to be doing all sorts of activities to focus on fluency, so I fell comfortable eliminating superficial reading aloud. It something needs to be read aloud, I will read it or I will use one of those other techniques. I was already shying away from that, but now I have more reason.

Donalyn Miller's next quote really sums up this chapter and should be the goal of every teacher.

"I want my students to learn what life readers know: reading is its own reward. Reading is a university course in life; it makes us smarter by increasing our vocabulary and background knowledge of countless topics. Reading allows us to travel to destinations that we will never experience outside of the pages of a book. Reading is a way to find friends who have the same problems we do and who can give advice on solving those problems. Through reading, we can witness all that is noble, beautiful, or horrifying about other human beings." (pg. 151)

New (School) Year's Resolutions

A great blog is hosting a linky party. The Clutter-Free Classroom is asking us to share our goals for the coming year.

1. Journals
I am on a mission to use less paper this year. We are going to use our journals to their maximum potential. I plan on introducing foldables to my students the very first week. We are also going to try out using a journal for homework. I hate copying pages for homework. This year we are going to TRY (and I hope it works) copying down our homework and then doing it at home. I will share more about that as the year starts. Check out my post about my planning journal.
2. New Student Kit
We get new students all year long. Last year I was not really prepared for new students. I would rush to get their desk in place and then... It was so frustrating to disrupt our morning that way, but this year I am going to have a new outlook. I am going to have a New Student Kit (thank you Ladybug Teacher Files for the awesome idea!) that I can pull from whenever a new student arrives. I will be putting extra things from the beginning of the year so it will be ready. When it is prepared I will share it!
Picture from Ladybug's Teacher Files

3. Share my love of reading
I am reading The Book Whisperer right now and loving it! It is really inspiring me to do more with reading in my classroom. I LOVE to read, but I am not sure that I really share that. It seems like we get bogged down in the mechanics and assessment of reading. That is going to change this year.

4. Make good use of time
I was horrible last year about staying at school late and being their early every day. It was my first year in the grade, building, and district, but I spent too much time at school. I really want to be home by 4:30 most days.  I am hoping that by being more organized and with all the work I have done this summer, that I won't feel like I need to stay late all the time. I am also going to work on using the time during the day better. We are going to have musical transitions that I am really excited about. Music makes everything better! I am also going to try out Whole Brain Teaching this year. Check it out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Student Welcome Gift

I like to start the year with a positive note. Last year I had this note on their desk with a bag of goodies. The pencil and eraser were on their desks ready for use. I used cute goodie bags tied with a twist tie. The kids put the bag in their backpacks and began using their pencil and eraser.

Here is a smaller version of what I used. If you want the version with only one on a page leave a comment and I will email it to you.
Welcome Note

This year I was inspired by Pinterest. Here is what I have now.

I will have the pencil and eraser sitting on their desks. I like it that way because they can immediately start on their work while I get things in order. The first day is always chaotic, as you know.

New Welcome Gift

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Foldables in Our Math Journal

Dinah Zike's session on Foldables has really inspired me. I have started to work on an example journal. I want to have the ideas ready. I will be doing a journal with the kids, but I wanted one for me to plan with. I think this is going to be great! I really think it is going to improve our understanding of math.

I am also going to be doing this with our UPSL (problem solving strategy) journals. I will be working on that...

Anyway, here are some pictures of what I have so far. Remember these are not my original ideas, they belong to Dinah Zike and you should really go check out her books and buy a few. You won't regret it! Go to her website to look around.

Now for my pictures:
We will be reinforcing our spiral by adding a personalized cover.
They will decorate a piece of black construction paper and
then I will mod podge it on.
Every journal needs a title page.
We will add to our Table of Content with each
The titles are in the top corners and the page numbers are in the bottom corners.

I LOVE this! A pop up number line that we can write on!!
Plus it leave almost all of the page free for work!

Do you use Foldable? How? What do you think of our journal so far?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Classroom in Progress

Hi everyone! Today was the last day of CAMT. I went to another Foldables session, this time on Notebook foldables. I LOVED it! I can't wait to pass on the awesomeness. I am planning on sitting down with our curriculum and planning out how to use them for the first six weeks.

Then I went to school and got into my room. I even have the key, so I can go up when I need to! YAY!

Here is what my room looked like when I walked in today.
I am standing at the door and this is the front of the room.
The door is on the left and this is the back of the room.
The wall on the opposite of the door.
My only dry erase board.
We had to pile everything off the floor so the floors could be stripped and waxed before we left. That is why everything is pushed to one side.

This is what it looked like after 2 hours. Not a lot of improvement...

I put butcher paper over my Promethean board to keep the dust off.
My desk is on the right and our classroom library is on the left.
Word wall, mailboxes, and guided reading table.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Whisperer Chapter 5

I want to start with the Self-Reflection Activity found on page 111.

What were your reading experiences as a child?
     My parents read to me from infancy. We read every night before bedtime. I have a great memory of laying in my parent's bed with my mom, dad, and little sister as I read a book aloud. I devoured books. I still do!
Were those positive or negative experiences for you?
Do you see yourself as a reader now?
     YES! I read all the time. My favorite store (other than Target, Dollar Tree, and Walmart =) is Half Price Books. I can get a whole stack for under $20!
How do you share your reading experiences-- both current and those from the past-- with your students?
     I am sad to say that I didn't tell them many stories about myself as a reader. I know I shared with them that I love to read and they could see that in read alouds, but I can do better. I will do better this year. I don't want to get stuck just teaching reading, I want to enjoy books with my students. I want that to be what they take to the next grade and beyond.
With which group of readers in your classroom to you most identify-- underground, developing, or dormant?
     I was an underground reader all through school, even college. I read what was assigned and sometimes enjoyed it, but I was always wanting to get back to my book. During high school, I always had a book ready for those quiet times or when I was in a class without friends. In college I read on the bus, waiting for class, at work, at home, and any other time I could grab.
Who have been your role models for reading?
     My mom because she loves to read. Both of my parents wanted us to be good at and enjoy reading. They bought us books and took us to the library. It was just always there.
List the last five books you have read.
     Only the last five? This summer I have read The Hunger Games trilogy twice, The Mortal Instruments series, The Book Whisperer, 7 Nora Roberts books, and all the blog posts I could find.
How long did it take for you to read these books?
     It really depends. I read The Hunger Games in a weekend because I just couldn't put them down. I read The Mortal Instruments series over two weeks. It usually takes me about 2-3 days to read through a Nora Roberts book. I am going slowly with The Book Whisperer. I am rereading and keeping with our pace.
Which books were read for a job or for school-related purpose?
     The Book Whisperer
Which books were read for pleasure?
     Really all of them because they were all my choice!

This chapter has really inspired me to think more about myself as a reader and how I can show that to my 2nd graders. I want them to be excited about reading. We don't have to read, we get to read! I think that might be my motto this year. I am going to show them my enthusiasm and I am going to concentrate on discussing books with my students. When we go to the library I am going to check out books, too. I want to walk around and see what they are choosing. When I buy new books (because I never buy only one) I want to share my excitement!

I am changing the layout of my room a little bit this year. I get to start working in my room tomorrow, so hopefully I will have some pictures soon. I am going to group the kids and they will have their book boxes at their desks for easy access. I think it will really make a difference. We will see!

Sorry I didn't create anything for this chapter. It was just a great read.

Jump on over to Mrs. Rojas' Teaching Resources and My Teaching Spirit to see what they have to say!

The Best Session at CAMT!

Today we got to see 3 sessions. It was great to see Stuart J. Murphy. His books are wonderful.

Then we listened to Greg Tang. His math games website is great. He will be coming out with some amazing math games on Sept. 1 of this year. I can't wait to subscribe. He said it is going to be about $30 for a year's subscription. I can't wait to use some of his strategies. He was hilarious today!

The best session at CAMT so far has been Foldables by Dinah Zike. If you have never heard of her and her great ideas, you need to check out her website. I am completely in love! I bought this book today because I am going to be focusing on journal work this year.

Here are pictures of what we made in the session today.

They gave us these. I love it!