Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smooth Sailing Back to School Tips

Thanks for sailing of to visit with me at Teaching with Blonde Ambition!  I am sure that you are anxiously preparing for the upcoming school year.  As you prepare to begin a new school year, I wanted to share with you some of my tricks for keeping my teaching materials organized.  If you are like me, you have millions of teacher resources you have purchased to make your job easier.  I have have two ways that I have found to organize my materials that have really made my life easier when it comes to both planning and making copies. 

The first is my file cabinet drawer.  Now, as you can see, it's nothing fancy on the inside, but boy, this keeps me organized.  

I have a file folder for labeled with each of the ELA Common Core Standards.    As I print materials, I put the file in the folder for the standard in which the material addresses.  

Occasionally, I have a file that addresses more than one standard or a topic.  If this is the case, I just create a folder for that unit.  As you can see I have some monthly folders with seasonal activities and materials with a certain theme, like  Titanic and Bubble gum for example.  
Here is a peek inside my folder for RL.4.2 addressing Theme.  I have the copies I need for my interactive notebook lesson, formative assessments, and other resources that I use to teach theme.  (See how you can win a copy of my 4th Grade Reading Interactive Notebook below).  

When I am ready to teach a standard, I pull my folder and take it to the copy machine with me.  Everything for teaching that standard is at my fingertips.  

This handy dandy file cabinet system is GREAT for when I do my planning at school.  But let's be realistic, I don't get ALL of my planning done during my planning periods throughout the week. I have to do my lesson plans at home on Sunday evening just like you do.  I can't take my filing cabinet home with me, so I have an electronic "file cabinet" as well.  

Thank goodness, we are in the digital age.  So many of my teaching materials are in an electronic format.  I have a flash drive that is absolutely my saving grace.  It keeps me from having to tote a million books home every night (like I used to do when I first started teaching).  My flash drive is set up very similar to my file cabinet.  

I have created a folder on my flash drive that contains all of my ELA files.   This is a screenshot of one of my "Reading Skills" folder.  You can see inside the "Reading Skills and Lessons" folder, there are multiple folders….each one addresses a standard I have to teach.  So, when I am planning at home, all I have to do is plug in my flash drive and I can easily see what materials I have for the standard I am planning to teach.  It makes planning easy-peasy because everything I have on a standard is a click away. 

So, in hopes to help you get yourself organized for the upcoming school year, I am giving away a $50 Walmart gift card to one lucky winner.  You can go by yourself a box of file folders and/or a flash drive to hold your magnificent teaching materials.  

In addition to a gift card,  I am teaming up with other fabulous 3rd-5th grade blogger/teachers for a GRAND PRIZE Giveaway.  One lucky winner will receive a packet full of our best selling resources.  It's a prize worth almost $300. What a great way to fill up that teacher file cabinet and flash drive.  :)  

Enter now for a chance to win my Walmart gift card or for a chance at the GRAND PRIZE that will help you start your year off with a BANG!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop by each of these blogs and read my friends' tips.  While you are there, be sure and enter their giveaways.  Remember, every giveaway not only qualifies you for the gift cards offered, it puts you in the running for the GRAND PRIZE you see above.  

Happy organizing and good luck!  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Student Reflection of Learning

I have lots of ideas and strategies that I will be adding this year to my classroom.  As the summer progresses, I will be blogging about some of them.  One of the components that I am going to make time for is student reflection.  One thing that I have done with my students for the last couple of years is a weekly student reflection form.  The students complete this form on Friday.

The students use the boxes to write a brief description of what they learned in each class for the week.  Then, the students write their favorite part of the week, set a goal for the upcoming week, and then my favorite part….they have an opportunity to tell me anything they want to share.  Sometimes, the kids tell me something that they are looking forward to or something they really liked at school.  Other times, the kids will tell me concepts they didn't understand or issues, like bullying.  These forms have been great tool for both my students and me.  If you would like to download this editable file, it's available for free in my TpT store.  You can download it here or by clicking on the picture below.  

I love these forms, but this is a once a week reflection.  I want to implement something daily, so the kids have a reflection time daily.  This summer, I stubbled across this file by Aimee VanMiddlesworth.  

My plan is to make an "End of the Day" jar with these reflection cards in it.  Each afternoon, I will draw a card out and have the kids think-pair-share their thoughts on the question.  This will promote student reflection, as well as, encourage students to practice discussing and sharing opinions and ideas.  

I will be putting together my "End of the Day" reflection jar soon, among other things.  I will post pictures when I have it finished.  Until then, I wanted to share with you some ideas for how to get your students to reflect on their learning.  :)  

Happy Monday!  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Flash Sale

Summer Flash Sale…all items in my store will be 20% off for today only

Friday, June 27, 2014

Miss Scarlett, in the Conservatory, with a Candlestick….

Before the school year ended, I surveyed my upcoming 4th graders to see what genres and topics interest them.  I thought I would use that information to plan for my Language Arts class for next year.  To my surprise, their interests were NOTHING like the students I had this past year.  I was excited because MYSTERIES were overwhelmingly the interest for the majority of the kids.  The results made this teacher very happy!  I love mysteries!  Immediately, I begin thinking about how I can incorporate fiction and nonfiction mysteries next year.  I am still working on this, but I wanted to share with you one of the ideas that I have already in place.  
When I was a kid, the board game Clue was one of my favorite games.  So, this made the wheels start to turn….are there books based on the game? (Yes, I have a class set of The Westing Game, which I love, but I wanted something else.)  I began my Google search and found that in the 90's, there were 18 books written by A.E. Parker that were based on the board game.  To my dismay, the books are no longer in print.  I did find a seller on Ebay that had almost the entire set available.  I purchased most of the books from her and found the remaining books used on Amazon.  I have all 18 books!!!  YAY!!!  

Each book contains 13 short stories/mysteries involving the characters from Clue that we know and love!  Each of the mysteries can stand alone and are about two-three pages in length, which are perfect for daily teacher read alouds.    

So, here is my plan.  I have created a sheet, like the ones that are included with the board game.  I plan to copy these and cut them apart.  The student can use the sheet for four mysteries before needing a new one.  :) While I am reading the mystery aloud, the students will listen and mark off the clues so they can INFER the answer to the mystery.  This will allow for active participation during the read aloud.  After I finish reading the mystery, I plan to have the students work with their "talk partner" to discuss each other's answers and reasoning behind their answers.  I think the kids are going to love this and I am excited because my read alouds are going to be more interactive.  If you are like me, sometimes you wonder if the kids are really listening.  Well, now there will be NO question! :)  I have included the link to the handout I developed if you are interested.  Just click on the image below.  

I have been working on some products and I hope to have them up soon, but while creating, I have become obsessed with a font by Monica Abarca.  It's called Monica's Peaceful Day.  If you will notice, I used it on the the Clue materials.  I just LOVE it!  Monica has several free fonts with very friendly terms of use.  I just had to share and give Ms. Monica a shout-out!  :)  

Happy Friday!  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reading in the Wild- Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!


We have some AMAZING bloggers and non-bloggers joining us over the next 7 weeks, and I cannot wait! Check out the hosts for each of the chapters/sections and make sure to follow them, so you don't miss anything. :) If your a blogger, awesome! Join us each week by linking up your posts/ideas. If you're not a blogger, that's great, too! You can read/follow and comment. We want to hear your advice, thoughts, and ideas for the classroom, too. The more teachers we have joining, the more amazing out classrooms will be this fall! 

Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read (June 19th)
Chapter 1: Creating a Workshop Schedule (June 26th) *This is a SUPER short section (only 4 pages), but a great chance to share/showcase your workshop schedule and sneek a peek at classrooms all over the world!*

Chapter 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material (July 3rd)

Chapter 2: Curating a Classroom Library (July 10th)

Chapter 3: Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Others & Conferring: What's the Point? (July 17th)

Chapter 4: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans (July 24th)

Chapter 5: Wild Readers Show Reading Preference (July 31st)

Aren't you excited, friends?!?! It's going to be a great few weeks! I'll see you back here on Thursday morning. Oh happy day! :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Reading in the Wild {Summer Book Study}

Happy day, friends!

Today I am joining with several dozen bloggers to invite you to an awesome summer book study showcasing Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild!
An amazing reader and teacher, Miller's first book, The Book Whisperer, shares her experiences in middle grades classrooms and how she has fostered a love of reading in her students. Her classroom is INSPIRING! The book is so down-to-earth, a fast read, and filled with simple (but powerful) ways to create a culture of reading in your classroom. In The Book Whisperer, Millers leaves you with her frustration - students leaving her classroom loving reading but faced with future teachers that do not share Donalyn's enthusiasm for reading. Gradually, her students leave the practice of daily, just-because reading.

Here enters, Donalyn's second book, Reading in the Wild. This books acts as a follow-up to the first and discusses how to foster a love of reading that is lifelong and sustainable...even when a passionate teacher is not present. As a 5th grade teacher, this is powerful to me. How do I structure reading and sharing opportunities that set the foundation for life-long reading? Reading in the Wild address this question!

I would love for you to join us! You can click here or the image below to grab your copy.

So friends, are you in??

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hocus Pocus…Keep Them Focused!- Part 2

We all know teachers are magic, but it seems that this time of year, our magical powers need a little extra umph and a maybe even an ABRACADABRA to get us to that last day of school!  So, I teamed up with some amazing intermediate bloggers to create some magic of our own!  You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, we joined forces to swap some of our favorite resources, armed with the goal of putting a little extra magic in our lessons and keeping our students engaged during these final weeks of the school year.

Credit goes to these talented graphic & font artists: Krista Wallden, KG Fonts & CC Fonts.

As promised, we’re all back today with Part 2 of our blog hop giveaway – the big reveal – viola!

I am so excited to share with you the product that I used in my classroom this week.  I swapped products with Kelly Benefield from Teaching Fourth.  I used her Spring Themed Graphic Organizers to keep my students focused and help prepare them for the BIG state assessment they will take next week.

Here is a look at how I used two of the graphic organizers found in this packet with my students.  

First, we read an AMAZING story from Storyworks Magazine called Good Enough.  It is a sweet story about a girl that REALLY wants a name brand shirt, so she will fit in with the girls at her school.  Her father is out of work, so her family can not afford the expensive shirt.  However, for her birthday, she receives a "fake" or "knock off" version of the shirt.  Of course, she is embarrassed and ashamed of the shirt and does not want to wear it to school.  In the end of the story, Dori, the main character, learns that material things are not important.  :)
So, the students worked in small groups to read the story and discuss it.  I used two graphic organizers from Kelly's pack to help the students review some of the literature standards.  The students worked on identifying the characters, setting, the events that make up the plot, and the theme of the story.  Kelly's Plot Mountain graphic organizer reviewed all of these skills.

After completing the Plot Mountain, the students completed another graphic organizer to determine the character traits of the main character, Dori.  The students had to analyze the text to determine a character trait based on the character's actions and the words of the character.

Here is a look at a couple of my student samples.

I was SO pleased with the work my students did and the way they were able to take apart the text using these organizers to pinpoint key details.  The students loved the activities as well.  In fact, I teach two classes of ELA and both groups commented about much fun they had in class.  Music to a teacher's ears….the kids were engaged, learning took place, and the final products were FAB-U-LOUS!  Thanks to Kelly for an AWESOME product!

Now to our second round of magic giveaway!  We decided to switch things up a bit by having several winners this time around!   In fact, 14 classrooms will receive a little magic for their own classrooms!  Each of the blogs featured below will be giving their prize to a different winner!

So, perhaps you want to know what MY winner will collect!  Whoever is drawn as the winner from my blog will receive my Flippin' through the Common Core- Flip Flaps for Reading Interactive Notebooks.
If you would like to see how these can be used in the classroom, check out Kelly's blog post.

Here’s what you need to do for this giveaway:

Stop by each blog to read about all the magic that has been spread around classrooms near and far!

Enter to win each blogger’s resource using the raffle below.  Each blog is showcasing the same Rafflecopter, so you can just add entries as you go! 

While you are at each blog, if you’re not a blog follower already, sign on to follow!  (You can earn bonus entries for following all blogs once you unlock the additional entries.)

Again, a total of 14 winners will be named!   Each blog will award a winner.  That individual will receive the prize listed at that blog!

Here’s the list of blogs to visit: 
Swap Stop A
Teaching FourthTeaching with Blonde Ambition

Swap Stop B 
Fifth in the Middle

Swap Stop C

Swap Stop D

Swap Stop E

Swap Stop F 
One Lesson at a Time

Swap Stop G 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Well, friends, here’s the blogosphere sending a little magic your way this May! :)